>> This not the kind of dollhouse you'd give to kids but rather the kind you'd give to cops. These 19 miniature blood-soaked scenes, meticulously crafted in the 1940s and 50s, are exact depictions of true crimes still used in police forensic training today. Their unlikely creator, an heiress to a trucking company named Frances Glessner Lee.
Who, despite being pushed by her parents toward more so-called feminine pursuits of arts and crafts, had a penchant for solving real life whodunits. Called the Nutshell Studies, they're usually holed up in a Baltimore medical examiner's officev but are making a rare public appearance at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC.
And although wealthy, Lee's focus was often the poor and powerless, those whose cases might be subject to prejudice by police. Her Nutshell Studies, with their incredible attention to detail, introduced to the police ranks with the help of a family friend and Boston medical examiner. And revolutionized crime scene investigations by teaching how to look for clues as to whether this, for instance, was a homicide or a suicide, or this barn was burned from arson or by accident.
>> It's remarkable in that what Frances was doing was something that no man in that field ever would have thought to do. She had taken that craft that she had learned as a child and applied that to a problem that people hadn't figured out a solution for.>> Dubbed the mother of forensic science, Lee helped to found the first of its kind department of legal medicine at Harvard University.
For her work, she was later named an honorary police captain in New Hampshire, the country's first woman captain. Those visiting the museum even get miniature flashlights so they can come upon the scenes as if they too are investigators trying to solve the crimes.