Atomic Miniatures: Michael Yurkovic’s Modern Musings

Atomic Miniatures: Michael Yurkovic’s Modern Musings

October 14, 2021 – January 16, 2022

Michael Yurkovic, Industrial designer and Artisan member of IGMA (International Guild of Miniature Artisans), creates timeless icons of the mid-century modern era. From a mid-century appointed New York Loft to a rusting Vespa, Yurkovic’s work brings miniatures into the modern age for viewers in this Featured Exhibition.

Bringing Miniatures into the Modern Era

Mini Retro Gas Pump


In the last decade, the clean lines, rich materials, and varied textures of mid-century design have had a renaissance. Since the miniature world takes its cues from the world at large, it naturally follows that mid-century modernism would take hold there as well. Contemporary miniature artisans show less interest in the Victorian buildings and dream mansions that once dominated the scene in the latter part of the 20th century. Instead, today’s miniaturists are recreating the mid-century modern homes where they grew up or currently live. Far from pristine, today’s miniatures often feature the everyday details of a lived-in home– establishing a sense of familiarity that is inviting, encouraging the viewer to come in and put their feet up.

"The closer you look, the better it gets."

One miniature artisan propelling this new approach forward is Michael Yurkovic.  A former industrial designer and toy inventor, Yurkovic was introduced to the world of miniatures in 2013, when he was invited to attend a miniature show. He was inspired by what he saw but noticed that mid-century modernism, a design aesthetic dear to him, was lacking in the showroom. Using his design skills, he began creating 1:12 scale models of classic mid-century modern furniture by Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, and Isamu Noguchi– among others. When he first began bringing his pieces to miniature shows, he was nearly the only one in the room with pieces from this era. His work was quite popular among collectors and sold out quickly. Nearly ten years later, mid-century modern and contemporary miniatures are gaining steam. You will readily find mid-century modern pieces being produced by other miniaturists as well as from commercial manufactures.

Alongside his passion for mid-century modern design, Yurkovic is also inspired by nature. In particular, he is fascinated with the concept of nature reclaiming the earth from the industrial age. Yurkovic masterfully melds these two disparate aesthetics to make miniatures depicting the detritus of everyday objects as they rust, wear, and weather when discarded. The results are both playful and thought-provoking. Gas Pump Diorama is a collaboration with South African miniaturist and nature artist, Beth Freeman-Kane. It features a 1950’s Hancock Gas Pump by Yurkovic rusting away only to be repurposed as a home for a family of sparrows, created by Freeman-Kane. In another more contemporary scene, Yurkovic presents the discarded remains of a Vespa left to rot in the desert with other junk. This piece calls to mind the role modern manufacturing and consumerism has played in the accumulation of waste that is polluting the planet. Vespa Diorama is a reminder of how the small-scale world of miniatures can carry poignant statements about the world at large.

About Michael Yurkovic

Michael Yurkovic portraitMichael Yurkovic brings his variety of experience as an Industrial Designer, Toy Inventor, Technical Illustrator, and Machinist to each piece he creates in miniature. He holds the ranking of Artisan in the International Guild of Miniature Artisans. Michael’s works have been featured in The Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the KSB Miniature Collection in Maysville Kentucky. Michael regularly teaches workshops around the United States, including at The Mini Time Machine Museum in Tucson, and will expand his schedule in 2021 to include the Netherlands, London, and Denmark. His latest works are inspired by stories, or narratives, which guide the creation of a new piece, often developing organically with the project. He invites the viewer to connect with the piece, and to fill in the blanks with their own thoughts and interpretations. His guiding mantra is, ‘the closer you look, the better it gets’.

Michael Yurkovic has also been commissioned to create a half-inch scale replica of the historic Ball-Paylore House in Tucson, Arizona to be acquisitioned into the permanent collection at the museum. This project will debut with this exhibition. To learn more about this project, visit us here: Ball-Paylore Miniature House Project

Connect with Michael

Follow Michael Yurkovic on Facebook or Instagram or visit his website


Associated Programs