skip to content

Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology


Miniature scenes
Late 19th century
Puebla, Mexico
Z 39595, Z 39596 & Z 39620

"Here are three miniature scenes depicting a bullfight, wedding, and a boating scene. I was immediately drawn to their intricacy. Movement and life have been captured on such a small scale! These factors also made the delicate objects a challenge to pack. Displayed [in the exhibition] are the solutions I found."

- Emily Shorter

Come in for a Closer Look...

Listen to an audio version of this text:


These three miniature scenes were collected in 1898 in Pueblo, Mexico. They are made from card backdrops with ceramic figures, and depict moments of daily life and significant events, including a boating scene, a bullfight, and a wedding.


I was drawn to their intricacy and how the artist(s) captured movement and life on such a small scale: some of the free-standing figures are fixed to the bases by only one foot, they are modelled with expressive arms and angled heads, and are holding props. The two leaping bulls have been modelled in curved lines and are fixed to the bases so subtly that they appear to be mid-flight.

Of course, the factors that make these objects so impressive also make them particularly fragile. They had clearly suffered some historical damage: several figures were missing arms and heads. This showed me that when re-packing these objects for transport to the CMC, I needed to ensure they were safe in their boxes, but without pressure from packing material.


To pack the miniatures, I secured them to plastazote (conservation grade foam) bases with specialist tape and glass headed pins and built barriers around them, which prevented movement while avoiding adding stress to the most fragile components. This was a culmination and development of techniques I had learnt on the project. I am proud and relieved that they have now survived two trips across the potholes of Cambridge!

If you’d like to see more objects like these, search: Z 39597, Z 39598, Z 39599, Z 39560, Z 39620, Z 39621 on our online database.

Read more about packing delicate objects for the stores move here:


Explore these objects further:


Explore the full collections database:

Emily Shorter - Collections Assistant (Stores Move)


Emily (BA, MA) has a background in Art History, Anthropology and Museum Studies. In her current role she is documenting, photographing and packing collections at MAA's off-site stores, ready for the move to the new Centre for Material Culture. Emily has previously worked at MAA as an Inventory Assistant and has recently been working on a collection move project with the Science Museum.

Two million years of human history. One million artefacts. Countless astonishing stories.