Most of the rooms showcase European or American interiors from the 13th (European) or 17th (American) centuries until the 1930s. They were conceived of and constructed between 1932 and 1940.
Thorne’s rooms were an immediate sensation; they were on display in the 1933-34 Chicago Century of Progress exhibition as well as the 1939 and 1940 World’s Fairs in San Francisco and New York City. Her scale of one inch : one foot became a standard for miniatures. Thorne also influenced museum trends of her time. It was becoming increasingly popular for museums to build full-scale period rooms which raised spatial as well as monetary concerns. The miniature rooms offered a captivating, economic alternative to the full-sized rooms. She also made accessible to thousands what was previously only accessible to those wealthy enough to travel.
The Thorne Miniature Rooms are currently on display at the Art Institute of Chicago (68), the Phoenix Art Museum (20), the Knoxville Museum of Art (9), the Kaye Miniature Museum in Los Angeles (1) and the Indianapolis Children’s Museum (1).