We have all encountered dioramas either while visiting a museum or in a classroom setting. Perhaps you didn’t realize there was a term for such a display. It’s even fun to say… DIORAMA!

Bridge at Fredericksburg


The word diorama can refer to a three-dimensional miniature or life-size scene in which figures, stuffed wildlife, and other objects are arranged in a naturalistic setting against a painted background. It can also portray a scene on cloth transparencies with lights to produce special effects. Dioramas may be complex or as simple as a festive scene in a shoe box.

Pratt’s Bluff



Stratford Hall currently has several diorama versions for visitors to enjoy and examine throughout the Visitor’s Center. The Lee Gallery hosts the “Bridge at Fredericksburg” for history buffs. The camp scene illustrates December 11, 1862 when Robert E. Lee wrote to Brigadier General Pendleton: “General Longstreet has just reported that the enemy is attempting to cross at Fredericksburg…”

Clifts Plantation Manner House Complex



To further commemorate the Civil War Sesquicentennial, “Pratt’s Bluff,” captures the Union’s movement on the Rappahannock River toward the Confederate infantry, cavalry, and artillery encamped west of Camden. George Frayne, Bob Butler, Dan Boley, and Bill Wright, engineered the 48” x 81” x 50” marvel on exhibit for a limited time courtesy of the Steamboat Era Museum in Irvington, Virginia.

DuPont Library Example


Meanwhile the Preservation Gallery contains the Clifts Plantation Manner House Complex for archaeology fans; Fraser Neiman’s notable interpretation originated from excavation data collected in the mid 1970s at Stratford Hall.

Dioramas have been around for ages, but they can be more than teaching tools. With a little time, creativity and confidence you too can entertain and delight a crowd or join a friendly diorama competition. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/peeps

-Karen Louvar, Collections Manager