Of Dolls and Murder

A collection of morbid Barbie-size models of violent death scenes on display at the Maryland Medical Examiner’s Office, the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death has inspired a coffee-table picture book and an volume of poetry.

Now this extraordinary collection of grisly hand-crafted miniatures is the subject of Of Dolls and Murder, a documentary by Minneapolis-based writer and filmmaker Susan Marks premiering September 30 at the International Thriller and Spy Film Festival in DC.

Narrated by John Waters, Of Dolls and Murder explores the Nutshell Studies and their enigmatic creator, Chicago socialite Frances Glessner Lee.

The documentary delves into our popular fascination with forensic science, visits the Body Farm in Tennessee, and follows Baltimore cops as they investigate a homicide.

If you prefer your morbid curiosities in hardbound form, check out The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, by Corinne May Botz.

Photo: Corinne May Botz

In this handsome and utterly fascinating must-have book, Botz has beautifully photographed and deconstructed each of the models in graphical detail.

Botz also kindly granted Welcome To Baltimore, Hon! permission to reprint some of the images here.

Also joining the burgeoning Nutshell Studies literature is Doll Studies: Forensics, a volume of prose poetry by Seattle writer Carol Guess scheduled for publication by Black Lawrence Press in 2012.

Stay tuned for fuller coverage of Of Dolls and Murder and details about public access to the Nutshell Studies at the new Medical Examiner’s facility.

Meanwhile, here’s a trailer for Marks’ film. Find out more about the documentary at ofdollsandmurder.com or on Facebook.

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