Tiny art on display in inaugural Miniature Museum

The left-hand corner of the museum offers Chris Bradbury’s “Old Chap” and Nathan Popp’s “Haystack at Dusk.” In the foreground is Amanda Kelly’s museum within the museum.

Radford University’s Graduate Art Student Association (GASA) has created a unique mark, producing a great thing in a small package.

On Wednesday, November 16 at 5 p.m., the GASA officially launched its Miniature Museum, a permanent display located in the lobby of the McConnell Library featuring tiny works of art created by Radford students.

The idea came from Amanda Kelly, MFA candidate and current Vice-President of the GASA. Kelly has worked in miniature for years, and her creations have been featured in places ranging from Architectural Digest to Super Bowl ads.

Kelly says she was inspired by "free little art galleries" she has seen online.

“While those galleries are usually outdoors and for the public to donate art,” Kelly explained, “we thought it would be better to have it in a common student area like the library and specifically curated with art by Radford students.”

ART-MiniMuseum admirer-11-16-22-96dpi-500
First year Studio Art Major, Salomé Cook, admires the work within the miniature museum.

Alexandra Leonetti, President of the GASA and MFA candidate, thought the mini-museum was a potent idea as well.

To accomplish the task, they called on Leonetti’s father, Frank Leonetti, a woodworker. He created the miniature art gallery using pine, dollhouse flooring, LEDs and a UV protective acrylic shielding. The structure stands three feet wide, a foot deep and 10 inches tall.

Leonetti noted that it allows current and future Radford artists to expand their audience and impact given the library’s foot traffic while creating a new university tradition. It also offers the chance to hone new skills.

“This is a great opportunity for the student artists who don't typically work in miniature to step out of their comfort zones and challenge themselves,” Leonetti said.

“For me, working in miniature meant painting with very small brushes and trying to maintain the quality of technique in a smaller space.”

Kelly says the artistry and craftsmanship also intrigues viewers, who frequently ask how she can create things so small. 

But despite the scale— and perhaps because of the scale—the art can have depth and require thoughtfulness for both audience and artist.

Brandy Bembry's "Boundary" is the smallest work in the gallery at just 1 inch.

Working in miniature requires experience and skill as an artist in multiple disciplines. For Kelly, her art “explores themes of loneliness, emptiness, and realism framed in micro, curated snapshot.”

In all, 10 artists display work at the opening.

Alexandra Leonetti and Zachary Logan will offer oil paintings, while Sydne Moseley contributes a 3D acrylic painting. Zach Blevins-Goad and Brandy Bembry created sculptures.

 Chris Bradbury and Nathan Popp’s miniature watercolors will be on display along with photographs from Mina Hatami and Mariah Nolen.

And remarkably, there is a 1:144 scale miniature of the mini-museum within the museum itself created by Amanda Kelly.

The museum is on display at Radford University’s McConnell Library and open for public viewing during library hours.


The inaugural exhibition inside the new Miniature Museum in the McConnell Library lobby features miniature paintings, photography, sculpture and even a 1:44 scale model of the mini-museum itself.

Nov 18, 2022
Sean Kotz