The major work for the Bicentennial Infrastructure Project—removing the siding on the historic house and adding a moisture barrier—was originally scheduled for winter 2020. However, due to the pandemic, the work was delayed and now has a projected completion date of spring 2022. Certain portions of the project were able to go on as scheduled, however, including installation of an updated HVAC system in the 2004 expansion as well as much behind-the-scenes work to help secure the safety and security of our museum. With the new HVAC system, we have seen that climate control for the Fifth Third Gallery and collections storage is much improved, and so we are very excited about the outcome of the final phase of the project.
Beginning in June 2021, portions of the permanent collection will be placed in storage as part of this intensive and invasive preservation. By August, the historic home will be temporarily inaccessible to museum visitors and members. However, you can still see our top 80 works on display in the In a New Light exhibition in the Fifth Third Gallery, and another 40 or so paintings at Borrowed Gems, an exhibition of Taft works at the Cincinnati Museum Center.
Deinstalling a world-class art collection is no small undertaking, and our curatorial team has been planning for this for many years. However, it is impossible to deinstall all of the art because eight murals—the famous Robert S. Duncanson murals—are painted directly on 200-year-old plaster inside the historic home.
The Duncanson murals are invaluable, and the cost of protecting them during preservation is high. Contractors must account for specialist methods of work in their plans, using tools or techniques selected because they minimize vibration, but often not the most efficient from a time or cost perspective. They must also plan a delivery timeline with latitude for potential vibration-related delays, where the Taft’s consultants must investigate the cause of any vibration incident before work can continue on. The Taft is working with Arne Johnson to support the vendor bidding process and their training of their employees, to ensure they fully understand the specialist needs of this projects— not so much of worrying about “What happens if I drop a toolbox in the attic?”, but thinking outside of that (tool)box on the best methods and equipment to use to get the job done safely.
Want to learn more about how you can help fund our Bicentennial Infrastructure Project and protect the Taft historic house for generations to come? Visit our Love This House campaign page to learn how you can show your support.