Nina Daldrup August 14, 1953–April 4, 2022

Nina Daldrup portrait

It is with deep sorrow that we announce the passing of our founding executive director Eleanor “Nina” Daldrup. Nina passed away on April 5th, 2022, in Tucson, AZ surrounded by her family after reoccurring battles with cancer. Her passing was approximately one month after the passing of the museum’s founder Patricia Arnell. She was 68.

Nina’s work in non-profits spanned three decades, including stints at The Arizona Opera, Tucson Museum of Art, Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium and the UA College of Education, among others. In the spring of 2009, she was approached by Patricia “Pat” and Walter Arnell about assuming the role of executive director for a non-profit museum of miniatures which they had recently founded. When Nina saw Pat’s collection of miniatures she was enchanted. She was also impressed by the building the Arnells were constructing to house the collection. After learning about their vision, she agreed to lead the museum. That April, Nina became the first staff member and executive director of The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures. Over the following summer she hired a staff of four, recruited volunteers, and celebrated with a grand opening that September.

From the very beginning, Nina was enthusiastic about the museum and her enthusiasm was contagious. She worked tirelessly to get to know the collection, the building, the staff, and every volunteer and constituent. Her goal was to ensure that the Arnell’s vision for the museum would become a reality: a happy place where people could come together to enjoy and appreciate the art of miniatures.  Nina created a positive and supportive work culture that emanated good vibrations into the galleries. During her seven-year tenure as executive director the museum welcomed over a quarter million visitors and gained 5,000 members.

To further the growth of the museum, Nina established a Friends Advisory Committee and worked on succession planning for the future of the museum. She also secured critical funding, including grants from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Connie Hillman Family Foundation to fund programming. Her most important work was her tireless effort to establish the museum in the community. Thanks to Nina’s efforts, the museum built a solid foundation of supporters: today, annual attendance averages 40,000 visitors, of all ages, from Tucson and all over the world.

In 2015, Nina discovered she had breast cancer. Following successful treatment, she decided it was time to retire and focus on spending time with her husband Tim and new granddaughter Ella. In 2018, with her cancer in remission, Nina agreed to join the museum’s development committee and she also accepted a position on the board. How fortunate the museum was to have her experience, passion and insight to continue influencing the growth and development of the museum, once again! Unfortunately, the cancer returned, and Nina needed to step down and take care of her health. Having battled reoccurring bouts with the disease, the illness and difficult treatments finally took their toll on her body.

Nina was a person of integrity, with a strong work ethic. She emanated warmth, cheer and compassion, and she was also a gifted singer and songwriter. She will be remembered fondly by many in the Tucson Community. The museum staff, board and volunteers cherished Nina and with heavy hearts extend our deepest sympathy to her family.

The museum and Nina’s family would be honored to accept a tribute gift in her name.


Why Miniatures Series

In 2010 TMTM published a monthly E-newsletter called The Mini Times. Nina’s contribution to the E-newsletter was a series titled Why Miniatures? in which she shared her thoughts about the significance of the artform. 

In Nina’s words, 

For thousands of years humans have built models and miniature representations as a means to aid thought and the development of ideas. The cognitive niche emerged from the continuous interplay between individuals and their environment, and it allows us to continually improve our lives and surroundings. …Using our intuition, and looking at things in new ways, we develop the creative insight that leads to learning and self-discovery at a much deeper level- an exciting and important aspect of the emotional fulfillment the miniatures bring to our lives.

The Flow Experience

A Place for Memory & History

Fairy Tales and the Feminist Agenda

An Interview with Patricia Arnell on Collecting Miniatures

Making the Most of a Miniaturized Landscape

Symbolism in Miniature

Small Objects & Safe Behaviors

Embracing Change With Ingenuity

Mysteries & Miniatures