When you think of dioramas and models, you probably think of elementary school projects and childhood toys. Well, these are most certainly not your average dioramas. Frances Glessner Lee, a wealthy woman from Chicago, spent much of the 1940s creating elaborate dioramas to help further the investigations of murders that had eluded local investigators. She didn’t know it then, but Mrs. Glessner Lee was making a huge development in what would eventually become forensic science.
Known as the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, Glessner Lee’s unusual and macabre models depicted murders and strange deaths in a way that police hadn’t yet, exploring them from new angles that allowed for more serious and logical observation. Although criminology has since evolved beyond the Nutshell Studies, the original models still exist and are often put on display for people to examine and wonder about the strange crimes that inspired Frances Glessner Lee to inadvertently create a whole new field of criminology.
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