Opened originally in August 1992 as the Petite Elite Miniature Museum and rededicated in June 1994 at a new location on bustling Wilshire Boulevard, the Carole and Barry Kaye Museum of Miniatures delighted visitors for nearly two decades. In its day, it was "the premier miniature museum on the West Coast'' and, perhaps, in the world.
Housed there were collections of exquisitely detailed miniatures representing all walks of life - a small mountain with a scale model train, a military room for replicas of soldiers from different war eras, the Kupjack 1950s diner and malt shop, and so much more. On display at one time was a recreation of the Doges Palace. One exhibit featured the six wives of Henry VIII created by renowned artist George Stuart. There was a miniature version of the Hollywood Bowl, too.
All in all, hundreds of exhibits were featured over the years, many done in 1? scale with intricate detail and crafting accuracy. One of the Lilliputian works featured monogrammed flatware less than half an inch long. There were ornate tea sets that could fit on top of a dime. Toothpick artist Wayne Kusy's 10-foot-long replica of the Titanic was part of the collection, as was the Greene and Greene Craftsman Bungalow and the Golden Train from Copenhagen with its little cargo of rubies and emeralds by dollhouse specialists Pat and Noel Thomas.
Curator Carole Kay developed the museum and its retail shop along with her husband Barry, a real estate planner, as a natural offshoot of her interest in miniature art. After building a dollhouse for her grandson in 1990, she gradually grew her hobby into a business, commissioning dollhouses by several artists. Prior to the museum's opening, Kaye told the Los Angeles Times, "I got carried away. It became an obsession. We just kept collecting (miniatures).''
The museum expanded into its 14,000-square-foot space at 5900 Wilshire Boulevard after outgrowing the initial 3,800-square-foot property it occupied in Century City next to Barry Kaye's office. Before that, the Kayes' home housed the dollhouses and miniatures to overflowing. Although they owned most of the pieces displayed, others were exhibited on loan.
Today, however, the Carole and Barry Kay Museum of Miniatures and its retail shop are now closed. What remained of the permanent collection was donated in 2009 to the Naples Museum of Art at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts, 5833 Pelican Bay Boulevard, Naples, Florida 34108-2740.
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