Kathleen Savage Browning Miniatures Collection

Maysville, Kentucky


By Dawn Woolcott

The boat captain has had a long day – up before the sunrise and on the boat working Folly Cove in a cold mist all morning, and pounding rain all afternoon. After work is done, he comes home, sheds his wet coat and boots and steps up to the cozy fire to sit and warm weather-beaten hands. After throwing another log on the fire, he rubs his grizzled beard and has a seat by the fire and soon dozes off. 

folly cove by pam throop by ksb miniatures
Folly Cove by miniaturist Pam Throop

The scene is easy to see, except it could never happen in this fisherman’s cottage. Unless the captain is really, really small. For this is a world in miniature – a room created by talented miniaturist Pam Throop. Built in 1/12th scale, these miniature rooms are jaw-droppingly realistic. The world of miniatures is on display at the world-renowned KSB Miniature Gallery at the Kentucky Gateway Museum in Maysville, Kentucky. 

Kathleen Savage Browning’s collection is on permanent display at the museum and is one of the finest collections of miniatures in the world. The woman behind the exhibit is simply known as Kaye to the town and can often be found rotating exhibits, or decorating the exhibits for various holidays throughout the year. At Christmastime, she lovingly decorates each room as if the family just stepped out to go caroling and will return at any minute. Fully decorated Christmas trees, dining tables laid with a full turkey dinner, cookie cutters ready for another batch, a Christmas village decorating the mantle over the fire. The details are amazing.

ksb collection cristina hampe miniatures
Christmas baking by Cristina Hampe miniatures
KSB Miniatures Maysville Kentucky - Thanksgiving display
A Massachusetts Thanksgiving scene - with a walnut to show the scale of the furnishings

Kaye works with artisans all over the world to showcase their works of art. The exhibits are changed four times a year enticing visitors to come back again and again to marvel at the new decor and exhibits. One of the latest is a replica of the Spencer House created by Mulvany & Rogers, recreating the ancestral home of Princess Diana’s family home in London.  The details are astonishing, right down to the historical portraits on the walls and musical instruments that can actually be tuned and played if your hands are small enough.

ksb miniatures Kentucky Spencer house
Spencer House at KSB Minatures
The Spencer House great room - with instruments that can actually be played!

As a child, Kaye was an avid reader, and especially loved biographies. She had an active imagination and would envision herself as Amelia Earhart, or a princess in a castle. That love of history evolved into the love of recreations of those worlds in miniature. As she decorates a room, she does research on the time period and the personality of the person or family being depicted. Each room display is a little history lesson.

“When I became enamored with miniatures, it became clear to me that my new passion 

was a direct result of my love of history.”

 Great thought and research goes into each display. When creating the bedroom of Martha Washington, she delved deeply into the woman’s personality. She found Martha was not necessarily the dowdy white capped woman we see in the portrait of her painted later in life. (Wouldn’t we all hate only being remembered as an old lady!) Although only 5 foot tall, she was poised and self-assured, was an excellent hostess, and also was a bit of a shoe lover – ordering a bespoke pair of fancy shoes for her wedding from London. You’ll find an exquisitely created pair of shoes on the floor in her miniature bedroom. 

As Kaye has traveled the world, she has brought home with her pieces from artisans in many different styles, but her love of history seems to always shine through. One room depicted is called the Lafayette room, named for the French General who befriended George Washington and volunteered to help during the Revolutionary War. The room was created by artist Eugene Kupjack, an artisan who originally hoped to become a set designer, but over time became one of the world’s most beloved miniaturists. Lafayette’s visit to Maysville around 1824 is an unexpected tie to the city after he stopped for lunch at a local inn. What would the man think of seeing his house depicted in miniature right down to his portrait hanging over the mantle and gold-embossed spines of books on the library shelf?

kay decorates Spencer house for christmas-november 2023
Kaye decorating Spencer House for Christmas - photo by KSB Miniatures

A visit to the amazing world Kaye Browning has collected, is definitely a must-see when on an Ohio River cruise. Take a guided tour and learn the history behind the rooms depicted – you’ll love the thought and research that goes into each room as well as the artistry. The most amazing places can be found in small towns across America! 

Visit Maysville – you can find your river cruise on the Ohio River here