The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

There is a miniature community of horrors on the third floor of the Maryland Medical Examiner’s Office. A display of 18 exquisitely crafted models of actual crime scenes presents grisly vignettes of violent death.

The models were made in the 1940s by Frances Glessner Lee, a wealthy, eccentric Chicago woman who had been raised on Sherlock Holmes tales and had a lifelong fascination with sleuthing. The studies were based on actual crime scenes, reconstructed from photographs, sketches and statements by witnesses and police. Only names and revealing details were changed. The dollhouse-like models are designed on a scale of one foot to one inch, perfectly proportioned for an investigator six inches tall.



Images from The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death by Corinne May Botz, used with permission.


The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death may be viewed by the public by appointment.

Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
900 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21223
info [at] ocmemd [dot] org


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  6. dave 4 years ago

    is there an email address i can use to organise an appointment for “The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death”?
    I have tried calling the number above but have not had anyone answer.

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  7. Sally 4 years ago

    On a whim, we showed up at the me’s office in the summer of ’11 – the only time we succeeded at getting in to this exhibit. Three more time between 2011 and 2012, I called trying to make a future appointment to see the houses again with other friends. At no time did we receive a call back from the man who was supposed schedule appointments and tours. We tried one last time in the fall of 2012 by simply showing up at the office, which had been so easy the first time. No one answered the intercom.

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    1. Bruce Goldfarb 4 years ago

      The person who used to accompany visitors to the Nutshells retired. A new person is doing that now. You can make arrangements for a visit by calling 410-333-3225.

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  13. Whitney 3 years ago

    We went to see the Nutshell Studies today and the experience was wonderful! They were more fascinating than I’d hoped. They are used to train homicide investigators and the room in which they are displayed is filled with lots of great information about their histories and uses. Our “guide” was a wealth of information, fun and great spirited. This is one of the coolest adventures in Baltimore. I highly recommend!

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    1. Louis 9 months ago

      Are you allowed to take pictures???

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  15. Laura Otero 1 year ago

    Would like to bring my seniors that our looking into criminal justice/medical field. Would someone please reply to my email address if not it is not that far and we can do a day trip. Thank you, we seen this on the travel/discovery channel. Awesome.

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