In The Inside Story (previously titled Collection Connection), Taft staff explore a range of topics related to the museum’s permanent collection, temporary exhibitions, and the history of the Taft house. This series of articles was originally published in Portico, the Taft’s members’ magazine.
Collection Connection | Limoges Meets Beijing
In 2014, the Taft Museum of Art accepted a remarkable gift of 89 pieces of Chinese painted enamel copperware. The late Reverend Compton Allyn left these rare treasures to the Museum in his will. Made by painting colorful diluted glass paste onto copper forms, the enamels in Reverend Allyn’s collection illuminate a story of cultural exchange between East and West.
The Inside Story | The Tafts and Cincinnati Art
The special exhibition A Splendid Century: Cincinnati Art 1820–1920 highlights the impact made on art in the city by the former residents of the Taft Museum of Art’s historic house. Charles and Anna Taft were the last of these residents. In 1900, after Anna inherited her father David Sinton’s $20 million estate (over $500 million today), the Tafts became philanthropists and art collectors who made a lasting mark on visual art in the Queen City.
The Inside Story | A Splendid Century
By the 1840s, artists had begun coming to Cincinnati from the surrounding region to learn more about art, as well as to exhibit and to sell their work, and many born in the city enjoyed success. In 1840, a writer for the New York Star asked, “Cincinnati! What is there in the atmosphere of Cincinnati, that has so thoroughly awakened the arts of sculpture and painting?
The Inside Story | Solved: The Mystery of the Unknown Cabinet Maker
This 18th-century notice poses a slew of tantalizing questions. First, was this the same Porter Clay who made the Taft Museum of Art’s early Kentucky sideboard? If so, where did Clay run off to? Was he captured? When did he come back to Lexington? Finally, did he avoid a jail sentence, and, if so, how? Such questions abound in an intriguing story featuring a runaway furniture maker, spiked with notes of nepotism and Kentucky luxury.
The Inside Story | Art Conservation
When an art object is going to be photographed for publication, it needs to look its best. One of the Taft’s treasures, the splendid but badly tarnished 17th-century Two-Handled Covered Cup, was brought to the Museum’s conservation lab to be cleaned and stabilized prior to photography (The Taft has a lab on site for the use of different contract conservators, each of whom specializes in certain kinds of art objects.)
The Inside Story | Oz Visits the Queen City
In 1900, L. Frank Baum published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. This illustrated “modernized fairy tale” for children stars Dorothy, a farm girl from Kansas. Swept away in a cyclone to the fantastical land of Oz, she and her dog Toto encounter munchkins, witches, and flying monkeys. Along with the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion, Dorothy travels the yellow brick road to see the Wizard—who ultimately turns out to be a fraud from Omaha—and inadvertently slays the Wicked Witch of the West with a bucket of water.