Definition of diorama in US English:



  • 1A model representing a scene with three-dimensional figures, either in miniature or as a large-scale museum exhibit.

    • ‘The actors and the scenery, sometimes represented symbolically, speak loudly to a similar diorama of wooden figures also standing on a round base in the adjacent room.’
    • ‘The project has been so successful that Nigel now works full time creating more life size figures and more small figures to set in dioramas that extend the scope of the museum displays.’
    • ‘Here's Deidre looking at a diorama, a model re-enactment of some kind of military engagement.’
    • ‘The Meteor Crater of Arizona will be highly featured in the hall with a scale model in a diorama.’
    • ‘The real wild animals hunted by Roosevelt and others had to be killed before they could be reconstructed through taxidermy and exhibited in the dioramas of America's museums.’
    • ‘She indicated the next room that held the models and dioramas.’
    • ‘Of the thousands of items in Kingston Museum, this diorama is one of my favourites.’
    • ‘The history of the cigarette industry in Kudus is documented at the Museum Kretek in dioramas and various objects, such as old packs of Kudus-made cigarettes and the instruments used to produce the cigarettes.’
    • ‘Wellington artist Terry Urbahn's work perhaps fits most closely with the exhibition's premise, underscored by actual museum dioramas on show in an adjacent room.’
    • ‘Behind the door is a three-dimensional construction, like a museum diorama.’
    • ‘Commercial images of wild animals and displays such as the Museum's dioramas tend to depict a timeless Eden, where humans are literally out of the picture.’
    • ‘In addition to these and other monumental works of sculpture, Huff also created several sculptures and dioramas for the University of California Museum of Paleontology's exhibit at the Exposition.’
    • ‘There were some impressive statues and dioramas commemorating the lives of various military figures, who I guess are buried in the Cathedral.’
    • ‘The best photo subjects in museums are usually sculptures, dioramas (in natural-history museums), and overall room views.’
    • ‘The scene looks like a series of dioramas in an old-fashioned museum.’
    • ‘There are also several halls that exhibit mining memorabilia, artifacts and pictures from the Ikuno mine, and a life-sized diorama exhibiting the steps involved in the refining of silver ores.’
    • ‘Deller placed tiny video monitors playing re-enacted battles within three miniature historical dioramas, part of the museum's permanent collection.’
    • ‘To contribute to the three-dimensional quality of the diorama, the students add flowers and leaves by gluing small pieces of twisted and folded colored tissue paper to the background foliage.’
    • ‘He highlights humans' obsession with the animal world and the way in which animals are viewed through more artificial means - zoos, museums, dioramas and old picture books.’
    • ‘Everything was static, like a museum diorama of a London street in some distant future.’
    pageant, tableau vivant, human representation, parade, scene
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1historical A scenic painting, viewed through a peephole, in which changes in color and direction of illumination simulate changes in the weather, time of day, etc.
      • ‘Panoramas were soon overtaken by even more spectacular inventions, such as dioramas and cosmoramas, which explicitly exploited illusionistic effects.’
      • ‘Arguably illusionism was a taste diverted into the diorama, and thence ultimately into the cinema.’
      • ‘In 1845, for example, crowds flocked to a Parisian diorama devoted to simulating the experience of seeing St. Mark's in Venice.’
    2. 1.2 A miniature movie set used for special effects or animation.


Early 19th century: coined in French from dia- ‘through’, on the pattern of panorama.