Cincinnati's Most Undeservedly Overlooked Artifacts and Artworks
There are some pieces you’re unlikely to breeze past inside Cincinnati museums. Take, for instance, the Cincinnati Art Museum’s Still Life with Glass and Lemon, Picasso’s cubist abstract piece that’s known as “the most difficult painting in the world.” And you can’t miss the massive Tyrannosaurus rex skull at the Cincinnati Museum Center’s Museum of Natural History and Science.
But past the heavy hitters, there are some fascinating pieces that do get overlooked. Here are some of Cincinnati’s hidden gems—and where you can find them.
Ancient Artifacts at the Cincinnati Art Museum
Estimated to be between 1,800 and 2,800 years old, the Cincinnati Art Museum’s Waverly Tablet is a small slab of stone with time-worn edges. It looks simple—until you get a close-up of the elegant, precise Native American etchings on its surface. But even that isn’t the oldest piece in their collection. The Arts of Asia exhibit features a cast-bronze wine vessel from China’s Shang dynasty, estimated to be as much as 3,200 years old.
Exclusive to Cincinnati
The Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati houses several unique artifacts from the city’s firefighting history. The museum’s 19th-century fire-alarm drum sufficed as a warning before sirens and other alarm methods were invented. At the Cincinnati Zoo, more local history is preserved in the form of a memorial to Martha, the last living passenger pigeon. Martha died at the zoo in 1914 of old age, and the zoo preserves her memory as the first recorded instance of an animal going extinct at the hands of humankind.
Golden Age Favorites at the Taft Museum
The walls of the Taft Museum of Art are graced by the original masterpieces from the European Golden Age of painting. Visitors might take in the collection’s Portrait of a Man Rising from His Chair by Rembrandt or Dutch landscape painter Aert van der Neer’s An Extensive Valley with a Distant City. The latter is a favorite of chief curator Lynne Ambrosini, who said, “Van der Neer’s observation of the clouds is masterful.” You can also seek out the ethereal works of English romanticist J. M. W. Turner, who you might know for his paintings of ships at sea, or follow another staff recommendation and find Landscape with Cattle Drinking by French artist Jules Dupré.
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