A table is laid for a breakfast that never was, somewhere upstairs blood patterns the walls of the master bedroom; a gunshot wound to the head. There is no sign of forced entry through the doll house doors.

Crime scenes are preserved in macabre miniature for ‘The Nutshell Series’ by Frances Glessner Lee, a heiress who’s interest in Forensic Sciences led her to preside over Harvard seminars in Legal Medicine.
Her dioramas were used throughout, informing a theory of geometric search pattern, a method of examining the wealth of evidence to be found at a crime scene, at a time when coroners had no medical training, evidence was too often compromised, and people were getting away with murder.

Attic (Letters), Corrine May Botz

Attic (Letters), Corrine May Botz

Attic (feet), Corrine May Botz

Attic (feet), Corrine May Botz

After the department of Legal Medicine was dissolved, The Nutshells were donated to the Maryland Medical Examiner’s Office, were they are still used for forensic training today. It is for this reason the deaths remain unexplained, their secrets unearthed by only a select few.

Dark Bathroom (Tub), Corrine May Botz

Dark Bathroom (Tub), Corrine May Botz

Photographing The Nutshells over 10 years, Corrine May Botz records with a meticulous eye the emotional resonance of architecture and objects within these haunting 1ft:1″ models. In one, letters lie discarded, written with love and torn up by anger, the sender – or perhaps the receiver – lies in that attic space also, from a beam and a laundry line overhead.

Whilst details surrounding the death are factually informed, characters and their interior spaces were created by Lee. Wood furniture is painted in the same cheery hues as the kitsch kitchen wallpaper, their proud owner slumped amongst them in frill trimmed apron, the picture of domesticity now defiled with blood. A rolling pin rests in dusting flour, a cupboard is left ajar, and there’s an overwhelming sense of someone having just left the room.

Imbued with childlike imagination, a sense of the impossible made possible, these house of horrors provide invaluable training for homicide detectives, as well as allowing a glimpse into the meeting of two worlds, the masculine dominated one Frances Glessner Lee infiltrated, and the domestic space she sought to escape.

kitchen (from afar), Corrine May Botz

kitchen (from afar), Corrine May Botz

Garage (hat), Corrine May Botz

Garage (hat), Corrine May Botz

Burned Cabin (from afar), Corrine May Botz

Burned Cabin (from afar), Corrine May Botz

Images courtesy of Corrine May Botz

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