The Taft Museum of Art (TMA) is a truly unique art museum. Its collection galleries are located in the Baum-Longworth-Sinton-Taft historic house—downtown Cincinnati’s oldest wooden residence still in its original location. The mansion was home to several prominent Cincinnatians, including Martin Baum, Nicholas Longworth, David Sinton, Anna Sinton Taft, and Charles Phelps Taft.
The Taft historic house was built around 1820 for Martin Baum, an early Cincinnati businessman, and purchased in 1830 by Nicholas Longworth. Longworth hired Robert S. Duncanson, the first Black American artist to earn an international reputation, to paint eight landscape murals. These are now recognized as the most significant pre–Civil War domestic murals in the United States.
After Longworth’s residency, the house was occupied by David Sinton and his daughter Anna, who married Charles Phelps Taft in 1873. The Tafts lived in the house until their deaths. In 1908, Charles Taft’s half-brother William Howard Taft stood in front of the portico to accept the Republican nomination for US president. The Tafts bequeathed their historic home and private collection of 530 works of art to the people of Cincinnati in 1927.
The collection features Chinese porcelains, American furniture, and European decorative arts, including a remarkable collection of French Renaissance enamels and one of the most exceptional medieval ivory sculptures in America. The major holdings of European and American paintings include works by such leading artists as Thomas Gainsborough, Francisco Goya, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Rembrandt van Rijn, John Singer Sargent, J. M. W. Turner, and James McNeill Whistler.
In 1932, the home opened as the Taft Museum of Art. In 1976, the Taft historic house and the Duncanson murals were designated as National Historic Landmarks. Between 2001 and 2004, the museum was renovated and expanded to include a special exhibition gallery, classroom, lecture hall, café, shop, and new workspaces. The Taft Museum of Art completed its Bicentennial Infrastructure Project in 2022, critically needed to preserve and reconstruct the museum's 200-year-old historic house—the Taft's largest work of art.