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Cincinnati’s Taft Museum — A Collection Worth Visiting

I visited the Taft Museum in Cincinnati yesterday, for the second time in a month. It is a small museum…perfect for taking someone who will be overwhelmed by a large city museum. A slow stroll through the museum yesterday took me about 1 1/2 hours.

The Taft is housed in a Federal style mansion, built in 1820, in downtown Cincinnati. The mansion had been owned by prominent Cincinnatians throughout its history but was ultimately turned into a museum as a bequest of Anna Sinton Taft and her husband Charles Phelps Taft. During their lives, the Tafts amassed a wonderful collection of art, antiques and furniture. I was told by a docent that the collection of Xing Dynasty porcelain is among the finest in the world.

I particularly admired the paintings. I saw works by Turner, Whistler, Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds and many other European and American works from the 1600s to the early 20th century. There is a fabulous collection of Middle Ages era porcelain and some fine American furniture. I was wowed by the small exhibit of antique enamel watches and jewelry/vanity items.

One of the extraordinary things about the Taft to me is the ability to walk the rooms and get close and personal to the art. It’s amazing to me the amount of trust that is given museum-goers. The docent told me that the museum is set up so that it feels as if you are walking through someone’s house…and it does feel that way.

The foyer of the house is decorated with a set of extraordinary landscape murals by Robert Duncanson. He was an African-American artist who came to Cincinnati to establish his career and was commissioned by Nicholas Longworth, the owner of the house at the time, to paint these murals. The eight murals are one of the largest existing pre-Civil War domestic mural decorations in the United States.

There is a nice cafe’ and gift shop in the facility too.

Admission is $8.00 for adults. On Wednesdays, admission is free. Closed Mondays.

Taft Museum of Art
316 Pike Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202