Helena Rubenstein who lived from 1870 to 1965 is well known for the cosmetics empire she created. She is not as well known for being the creator of miniature rooms that are individual works of art. Her love of dollhouses and dollhouse miniatures started as a child in Poland where she grew up. She credited her grandfather’s gardener Stasheck with her lifelong love of miniatures. Stasheck carved handmade dollhouse furniture out of wood for Helena and her sisters when they visited and a dollhouse collection was begun.
Helena Rubenstein collected dollhouse items and diminutive items all over the world including dollhouse ivory, pewter, crystal, sterling silver household items and handcrafted mahogany furniture. These items were eventually used in what has become known as the Helena Rubenstein Miniature Rooms which are permanently housed in the Rubenstein Pavilion at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in Israel. The rooms portray rooms showing different areas of the world and different time periods in architecture and interior design. The miniature depictions include a Queen Anne Dining Room in England in the early 18th century, a Spanish Dining Room from the 18th century, Louis XV Rococo mid 18th century room, Napoleon III Second Empire Room, English Mid Victorian Room, Biedermeier Room in Germany, Austrian Country Kitchen, Montmartre Art Studio, Paris Gay Nineties Room, and an English Old Curiosity Shop. The rooms can be viewed online at the museum website.
According to Rubenstein she was very pleased to be able to display her dollhouse room
collection to the public but it was the collection’s affect on children that made her the most happy. “Connoisseurs have traveled from many lands to see these miniature rooms, but I enjoy showing them to children most of all.”
Rubenstein was committed to the interests of Israel and in addition to donating her miniatures to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art; she created the Helena Rubinstein Foundation in 1953 and made major donations in the areas of health and medical research.
The Tel Aviv Museum of Art where the miniatures collection is on display is a municipal museum and is considered one of the country’s top artistic establishments. The Museum is also home to a comprehensive collection of local Israeli art, a collection of modern and contemporary art by artists from around the world, and also offers programs for both adults and children. The museum was originally founded in 1932 by Meir Dizengoff who was the first mayor of the city of Tel Aviv.