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From the Collection: An A to Z of Miniature Buildings

Categories: Articles

When we went about compiling an alphabet’s worth of objects to be found in the David Weingarten Collection of 20th Century Souvenir Buildings, there was plenty to choose from: more than 3,000 miniature representations of architecture and monuments, in fact. Eventually, we plan to show all of the items on this website. In the meantime, our A–Z tour is a great introduction to this amazing archive, compiled over four decades and donated to the Museum in 2019. Learn more about the collection and see other images at the link above.

We’ll post a building miniature each day here and also on our social media accounts. If you’ve visited any of these places and have a photograph to share, post it and tag us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. All images shown: David Weingarten Collection of 20th Century Souvenir Buildings, courtesy National Building Museum.

A: ADLER PLANETARIUM

Located in Chicago, the Adler Planetarium was designed by Ernest Grunsfeld Jr. and opened in 1930. This object dates to the the early part of that decade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

B: BOUNTIFUL MORMON TEMPLE

The house of worship in the Utah city of Bountiful was dedicated in 1995. This object is from 1998.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C: CENOTAPH

This London monument was completed in 1920 and designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Initially built as a World War I memorial, it has since become England’s official war memorial. This object dates to the 1920s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D: DONAUTURM WIEN

Designed by Hannes Lintl, the Donauturm Wien (Danube Tower) opened in 1962 and is Austria’s tallest structure: 827 feet. This object is from the 1980s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

E: ELEPHANT OF THE BASTILLE

This Paris monument stood from 1813 to 1846. Although a permanent structure that included interior stairs to a viewing platform on the top was intended, only a full-size plaster model was ever made. This object is from 1989.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

F: FIELD MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

The Neoclassical building was planned by Daniel Burnham and designed by his associate, William Peirce Anderson. It opened in 1921, and this object dates to the 1930s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G: GRAND PALAIS

Also known as the Palais des Expositions, this Art Deco building was designed by Joseph Van Neck for the Brussels International Exposition of 1935. It was also part of the city’s Expo ’58. This object is from 1935.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

H: HIROSHIMA PEACE MEMORIAL

Originally the Product Exhibition Hall (1915), designed by Jan Letzel, this was the only building at ground zero to survive the blast of the atomic bomb dropped on the city on August 6, 1945. The object dates to the 1960s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I: IL CAMPANILE DI FIRENZE

The Gothic-style bell tower (campanile) was designed by painter Giotto di Bondone and took 25 years to complete: 1334–1359. This object is from circa 1970.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

J: JARMULOWSKY BANK

This coin bank is from 1915 and based on a 1903 Moorish-style building, built by New York City’s Jarmulowsky banking family, that no longer stands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

K: KENTUCKY STATE CAPITOL

The Beaux-Arts building opened in 1909 and was designed by Frank Mills Andrews. This object is from the 1930s and was used as a bookend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

L: LIBERTY STATUE

This Budapest memorial was erected in 1947 in remembrance of the Soviet liberation of Hungary from Nazi forces during World War II. The object dates to the 1960s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

M: MITAD DEL MUNDO

This monument, finished in 1982, marks the location of the equator—el mitad del mundo (the middle of the world)—from which the country takes its name. The object dates to the 1980s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

N: NUREMBERG CASTLE

Germany’s Nuremberg Castle was built over several centuries. This object, which is from the 1930s and was used as a beer stein, depicts the Sinwell Tower, constructed in the second half of the 13th century.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

O: OLD TAYLOR DISTILLERY

Built in the late 1800s, this castle-like structure in Frankfort, Kentucky, was saved from destruction almost a decade ago and serves once again as an active distillery. The object, a coin bank, is from the 1960s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P: THE PENTAGON

Located in Arlington, Virginia, the five-sided structure was designed by George Bergstrom and dedicated in 1942. With 6.5 million square feet of space, it remains the world’s largest office building. This coin bank is from circa 1960.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q: QUEENSFERRY FORTH BRIDGE

This 1890 cantilevered rail bridge over the Firth of Forth, in Scotland, was the first major structure in Britain to be built of steel, rather than iron. The object dates to the 1920s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

R: RYMAN AUDITORIUM

This building opened in 1892 as the Union Gospel Tabernacle. You probably know the Nashville landmark by another name: Grand Ole Opry House. The object is from the 1960s and is, appropriately, a music box.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

S: SPACE NEEDLE

Erected for the 1962 World’s Fair and designed by John Graham & Associates, this Seattle, Washington, icon was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi for many years. The object, a lighter, is from 1962.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

T: TAJ MAHAL

This iconic, elaborate mausoleum in Agra, India, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was completed in the 1640s. The object, a music box, dates to the 1960s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U: UNISPHERE

The 12-story-tall-structure is the largest representation of the globe in the world and was designed by landscape architect Gilmore David Clarke for the 1964 World’s Fair. This object, a viewer complete with its original box, is from that year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

V: VISTA HOUSE

Designed by Edgar Lazarus and opened in 1918, the Art Nouveau–style building was created as a rest stop observatory for travelers on the old Columbia River Gorge Highway. This salt-and-pepper set is from the 1960s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

W: WONDER WALL

The Wonder Wall was a temporary, colorful array of building forms designed by Charles W. Moore and William Turnbull for the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition, held in New Orleans. This object is from that year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X: SAN XAVIER DEL BAC MISSION

Located in Tuscon, Arizona, the Spanish Colonial structure was built in the 1780s/90s. This coin bank dates from the 1980s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Y: YOMEIMON GATE

Located in Tuscon, Arizona, the Spanish Colonial structure was built in the 1780s/90s. This coin bank dates from the 1980s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Z: ZEMBO MOSQUE

An example of Moorish Revival architecture, this Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, building was designed by Charles Howard Lloyd and opened in 1930. This object is from that decade