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Cincinnati Museum Center partners with Taft Museum of Art on free exhibition

Borrowed Gems from the Taft Museum of Art opens July 23

CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) is partnering with the Taft Museum of Art to care for nearly 50 artworks during the restoration of the Taft’s 200-year-old historic house. These works will be showcased at CMC in the featured exhibition Borrowed Gems from the Taft Museum of Art. Borrowed Gems opens July 23 and will be free to the public.

“We’re proud to partner with the Taft Museum of Art to share their treasures with our guests as they secure the future of their home,” said Elizabeth Pierce, president & CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “Within Cincinnati Museum Center you’ll find treasures that tell the stories of our city’s history and we’re grateful the Taft has entrusted us with their artworks to tell another uniquely Cincinnati story.”

Borrowed Gems showcases the collection of Charles Phelps Taft and Anna Sinton Taft, displaying work from masters including Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Charles François Daubigny, J. M. W. Turner and Thomas Gainsborough, in addition to decorative arts featuring Qing dynasty Chinese ceramics and 18th-century watches. The exhibition continues the reinterpretation of the Taft’s permanent collection, covering a broad range of eras, cultures and art forms and the Taft’s More to the Story interpretive texts, providing audiences a more diverse understanding of history. Select works are also highlighted with Closer Look labels to engage families and children with self-guided learning prompts.

Organized by subject matter, Borrowed Gems shows the full range of paintings collected by the Tafts. The couple enjoyed collecting portraits, scenes from daily life and landscapes that could also serve as educational models for artists working in Cincinnati who would look at, and even copy, works by masters of the past. Highlighted portraits in the exhibition include British works such as Thomas Gainsborough’s portrait of Maria, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh and Joshua Reynolds’ Mrs. Stephen Payne-Gallwey and Her Son Charles. These works continue to offer insights today, providing context into the stories behind the faces seen in the paintings. The portraits are accompanied by 18th-century European watches made of gold and precious gems, bought by the Tafts to inspire Cincinnati’s watchmaking industry. Rather than precision timepieces, these watches are miniature works of art that demonstrated their owners’ fascination with technology. Each watch in Borrowed Gems required the hand of many skilled artisans, from goldsmiths to enamelers to the makers of the movement.

Borrowed Gems also features paintings and porcelains made by Chinese, Dutch, English and French artists of the 18th and 19th centuries portraying people, illustrating narratives and depicting scenes from daily life. The varied cultures and time periods represented in the collection point to the universal impulse to examine relationships and tell stories. Exhibition features include Jean-Francois Millet’s Mother and Child, Anton Mauve’s Cattle Grazing and Adriaen van Ostade’s Interior of an Inn with Three Men and a Boy, which share scenes of people at work, tender family moments and playful vignettes of childhood. Works from the Taft’s collection featured in Borrowed Gems also showcase Chinese vases that illustrate action-filled narratives from Chinese history and literature such as the Vase with the Battle of Kunyang.

Landscapes in the exhibition feature vistas of the French, Dutch and English countryside by painters including J. M. W. Turner’s The Trout Stream and multiple works by Camille Corot. These paintings likely provided respite to the Tafts as they lived in the heart of downtown surrounded by newly built factories. A selection of landscape-inspired Chinese porcelains with designs derived by nature such as the Vase with Lotus Flowers is also on display in the exhibition. During their lifetimes, the Tafts invited artists to see the works from their collections in their home, hoping to encourage creativity in the arts and even inspiring Rookwood Pottery artists with their more than 200 pieces of Chinese ceramics.

Borrowed Gems from the Taft Museum of Art is open July 23, 2021 to February 21, 2022 in the John A. Ruthven Gallery and the William L. Mallory Sr. Gallery at Cincinnati Museum Center. Admission is free.

Borrowed Gems from the Taft Museum of Art is a partner exhibition to the Taft’s In a New Light: Treasures from the Taft, on display at the Taft Museum of Art from July 3, 2021 to May 1, 2022, both drawn from a selection of the museum’s permanent collection. These exhibitions offer audiences the opportunity to continue enjoying the Taft’s artworks during the preservation of the historic Taft house and also offer up new insights as the works are reinterpreted for a 21st century audience.

Operating support for Borrowed Gems is provided by the Taft Museum of Art’s season funders: ArtsWave, the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council. Addition exhibition support is generously provided by the Ellen and George Rieveschl Endowment, the Warrington Exhibition Endowment, the Chellgren Family Endowment and the Sallie Robinson Wadsworth Endowment for Exhibitions.

Companion publication available at the Taft Museum of Art and online

Highlights from the Taft Collection, published by D Giles Limited, is available in the Taft’s Museum Shop online and in-store. The volume presents highlights from the Taft Museum of Art’s exceptional collection, which spans over 750 years of creative endeavor. Donated to the city of Cincinnati in 1927, Charles and Anna Taft’s collection features Chinese porcelain from the Ming and Qing dynasties, paintings by masters including Rembrandt, Jan Steen, Gainsborough, Goya, Ingres, Corot, Whistler and Sargent and decorative works of art, including enamels, ceramics and metalwork. The 80 pieces featured in this volume, chose from the 740-piece collection, are presented in four sections, coinciding with the museum’s major areas of specialization: European painting, European decorative arts, American art and Chinese art.

Each piece is accompanied by an entry detailing its history and that of its artist or maker, written by Taft curatorial staff. Former Taft chief curator Lynne D. Ambrosini’s essay explores the collecting practices of Charles and Anna Taft, including the inspiration they derived for their own collecting from visits to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Museum director Deborah Emont Scott’s foreword provides a history of the Taft bequest and its lasting significance to the city of Cincinnati and its present-day inhabitants.


About Cincinnati Museum Center
Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) at Union Terminal is a nationally recognized, award-winning institution housed in a National Historic Landmark. CMC is a vital community resource that sparks curiosity, inspiration, epiphany and dialogue. CMC was awarded the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and received accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums in 2012, one of a select few museums in the nation to receive both honors. Organizations within CMC include the Cincinnati History Museum, Museum of Natural History & Science, Children’s Museum, Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX® Theater, Cincinnati History Library and Archives and the Geier Collections and Research Center. Housed in historic Union Terminal – a National Historic Landmark restored in 2018 and recognized as the nation’s 45th most important building by the American Institute of Architects – CMC welcomes more than 1.8 million visits annually, making it one of the most visited museums in the country. For more information, visit

About Champion More Curiosity
The $85 million Champion More Curiosity campaign is shaping Cincinnati Museum Center’s future while creating generations of critical thinkers to power the innovation of our region. By Championing More Curiosity and helping build the future of Cincinnati Museum Center, you can fuel the economic prosperity of our region. Champion More Curiosity will build or reimagine over a dozen permanent exhibits and galleries and equip state-of-the-art labs for cutting-edge research for students from elementary grades to post-docs. Today’s wide-eyed explorers will be tomorrow’s innovators. We work shoulder-to-shoulder to engage our community in monumental moments of epiphany, wonder and connection. As we inspire all generations to learn, grow and thrive at Cincinnati Museum Center, we Champion More Curiosity. Consider making a lifelong impact by donating in support of Championing More Curiosity at

About the Taft Museum of Art
The Taft Museum of Art is a living landmark tucked away in downtown Cincinnati, where art and history lives on the walls – and in the walls. Built around 1820 as a private home for several of Cincinnati’s most prominent citizens, the Taft Museum of Art is now one of the finest small art museums in America and holds National Historic Landmark status for its historic house and Duncanson murals.

Throughout our grounds, guests can enjoy special exhibitions, the historic outdoor garden, our Museum Shop and Lindner Family Café, events and programming for all ages and complimentary on-site parking. It is all under one roof, culminating in a one-of-a-kind, multi-sensory experience that puts you at the center of art and history.

To discover more ways to celebrate the bicentennial of the Taft Museum of Art’s historic house, support the Love This House campaign, or follow the Bicentennial Infrastructure Project updates, visit and follow #TaftHouse200.