Only Lyon - Tourism and Conventions

Dan Ohlman, Musée Miniature et Cinéma
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Maison des Avocats

Here, dreams start off small!

Dan Ohlmann, miniaturist and creator of the museum

In the Maison des Avocats, one of the most emblematic buildings of Lyon’s Renaissance district, you mustn’t miss this museum devoted to the art of miniature and the cinema's special effects, created thanks to the creative energy of miniaturist Dan Ohlmann, who runs it and ensures its continual development along with his small team of twelve.

Talk to us about the Museum of Miniatures first…

The Museum is dedicated to the art of miniature and to the cinema's special-effects. 

Concerning Miniature, we show 120 pieces produced by artists from throughout the world (Japan, China, United States, etc.) as well as 60 miniatures that I produced myself.
They are reconstructions of interiors or places in Lyon and elsewhere, intended to fire your imagination by immersing you in the atmosphere.



How do you go about selecting your subjects and then producing such faithful miniatures?

Miniaturists are passionate about producing pieces for the pleasure of the public. I particularly like to find locations that are relatively unknown and inaccessible: the rehearsal room at the Opera , a theatre in Barcelona, inner courtyards, silk workshops, apartments, etc.
I take around 1,000 photos, take measurements, and explore the site from top to bottom. Then I spend 6 to 8 months faithfully reproducing the site. It’s a lot of time and work.

What are the more unusual and surprising works?

We have a rock concert set, produced by one of Jean-Louis Aubert’s former musicians who decided to change direction, and a loft apartment interior created by a miniaturist who had experienced real poverty – and you can feel it in his creations.
We also have some surprising and amusing interiors, featuring miniatures of miniatures!
The work is undertaken with a magnifying glass and needles.
Miniaturists are like magicians, we create visual mirages, scenes that are confusingly real, faithfully reproducing the atmosphere and living aspect of the locations…

Miniatures and Cinema: do they form a logical combination?

A passion for miniaturisation extends into various fields, including special effects for the cinema! When entire cities get blown up, for example, they are clearly miniatures!
It’s logical that I should come into contact with the world of cinema miniaturisation, and that’s how the museum grew with the collection of sets, cinema miniatures and special effects.
The Museum is partnered with 17 studios in Los Angeles, with whom we have an agreement to change 50 objects a year out of the 200 on permanent display to the public.
This means that our collection evolves on a regular basis, and we have original pieces that the public recognises, including animatronic pieces: the animated head of the Minotaur from Narnia, a Gremlin, Stuart Little, a gorilla, etc.
In terms of science fiction, we have a 7-metre long space ship produced by David Sharp’s team, who worked on both Star Wars and Star Trek.
You can even visit the cockpit of a space ship from a film that is set to come out shortly…

Do you explain the special effects?

Miniatures are used in order to avoid constructing large film sets. To recreate a bombed Berlin in 1945, for example, around thirty miniatures were used to represent a devastated cityscape. To insert the actors, they are filmed against a blue or green screen and then integrated into the setting. This type of special effect is clearly explained in the “making of” videos, in this way the tricks and special effects used in around a hundred films are explained.
We also have a room (reserved for adults) where you can view the faces of corpses and other macabre prosthetic props.

You also have sets from the film Perfume? One of the jewels of the museum…

In the basement, we have life-size sets from Perfume that have been entirely recreated by the decorators who worked on the film, as well as the costumes: we are the only venue in France where you can see this kind of film set. Generally speaking, in the cinema, this work remains hidden. It’s a bit like a top chef revealing his secrets and recipes!
All this is the fruit of 20 years of relationships built with 30 European and American film studios.

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Lyon City Card Admission the the Museum of Miniature and Cinema is included in the Lyon City Card