Holy Toledo!

Recently I got around to checking out the Toledo Museum of Art, which is about a two hour drive from where I live. I’m ashamed to say that it’s been in my backyard, so to speak, for almost 15 years and I just never visited it.

It fulfills all the requirements of a classic art museum – columned front and lots of marble steps leading up to it, generous local donors whose gifts formed the nucleus of the collection (in this case the Libbey glass family,) and at least one Rembrandt. It also has a separate glass pavilion which was undergoing rearrangement during my visit, to my disappointment. Most of the good stuff was jammed into a study room, and some of the glass could have used more breathing space. Of course I was spoiled by the Corning Glass Museum.

My personal highlights included the room of Grecian urns (and drinking cups and plates) and the huge display of netsuke. Here are the pieces I would like to display in my house (as if!)

The painting with the purple sail is by Georgia O’Keefe, a very different subject for her. You can view most of the museum’s collection on its website.

I spent a lot of time peering at the netsuke, which are mostly the size of a small plum. By accident I discovered drawers filled with inro, which are the containers for personal belongings attached to sashes with cords and secured with a netsuke. How it all worked is described in this article. Here’s an inro that features Raiden, the thunder God.

If I could have pocketed some netsuke, these are my choices:

I love that the last boat one is called How to Weigh An Elephant. The other boat is a party boat occupied by two party ladies and one gentleman. I don’t they’re interested in being weighed.


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8 responses to “Holy Toledo!

  1. Don’t we do this all the time? Ignore the treasures in our backyards? I completely missed the Chagall show at the Musee des Beaux-Arts, one hour away in Montreal . . . The Toledo Museum has some exquisite work!

    • I find guests will often spur me to visit local attractions that I have been ignoring for a while. After all, I like to get the guests out of the house. In the case of the Toledo art museum, my impetus was a positive report from a guest who had seen it a few days before visiting me.

  2. Thanks for sharing another museum which is, at this point, too far for me to visit. More artist’s work to explore. I love the netsuke; Beautiful and useful. I have watched a video of them being made using power tools. I wonder what the early makers (or even those still using hand tools these days) would think of that!

    • I was surprised to learn that netsuke are still being made. The museum had some dated in he 20th century. I assume the modern ones are meant as decorative objects, not as clothing accessories. I would think you’re spoiled for choice in California museums.

  3. Jane

    I’m glad you were able to see some of the treasures in the Toledo Museum, but share your disappointment that the glass pavilion was not available. Several years ago a friend and I had the pleasure of seeing an art glass exhibition in the main building as well glass-blowing demonstrations in the glass pavilion where we also saw beautifully sunlit displays of their collection. It was almost too much to take in on one trip. As with the Allen in Oberlin, the Toledo Museum doesn’t get nearly the press and respect it deserves. Small but mighty. I’m looking forward to another visit before too many more years pass.

  4. Barbara

    I have been a big fan of netsuke for years they are such exquisite little works of art. Their tactility ( is that a word?) is part of their appeal, not unlike quilts.

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