Museum History

The Baum-Longworth-Sinton-Taft House, a National Historic Landmark built about 1820 for Martin Baum, is the oldest domestic wooden structure in situ locally and is considered one of the finest examples of Federal architecture in the Palladian style in the country.

Other residents of this important villa included Nicholas Longworth, who extensively redecorated the interiors and hired African American painter Robert S. Duncanson to paint landscape murals in the foyer, now considered as one of the finest suites of domestic murals dating from before the Civil War.

After Longworth’s residency, the villa with a copper roof was purchased by David Sinton, father of museum co-founder, Anna Sinton Taft. Anna Taft lived in the mansion with her husband Charles Phelps Taft from 1873 until their respective deaths in 1931 and 1929. In 1908, Charles Phelps Taft’s half-brother, William Howard Taft accepted the nomination for U. S. president underneath the house’s portico. The Tafts bequeathed their historic home and private collection of 690 works of art to the people of Cincinnati in 1927. After extensive remodeling and updating, the Baum-Longworth-Taft House opened as the Taft Museum in 1932.

The Taft Museum of Art reopened on May 15, 2004, following a major renovation and expansion, which includes a parking garage, the Fifth Third Gallery for special exhibitions, Dater Education Room, Luther Hall performance/lecture facility, larger Museum Shop, and a Café.

Today, the Tafts’ distinguished collections are displayed in the Federal villa, which stands as one of the finest small art museums in the nation.

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