At the Toledo Botanical Gardens you will find the unique little museum called the Blair Museum of Lithophanes. Lithophanes are porcelain plaques when lit from the back show a detailed image. The plaques look pretty plain until light is shown through them. The museum was founded by Laurel Gotshall Blair. These lithophanes are his collection. He donated it to the city of Toledo and now it is housed in a museum at the Toledo Botanical Gardens.
The museum is not open every day of the week or all year. It is normally only open on weekends. As of writing, the museum is only open May through October, unless you are a paid group tour. When we went there was no charge for the museum. When entering the building we were greeted by friendly staff member who was very helpful and willing to tell us the story of the pieces. We learned the history of lithophanes, Blair, and the artwork. Probably without the guided tour our appreciation of the artwork would not be as great. So if asked if you want a tour, say yes.
The whole building is not huge, but there many lithophanes to see. They are hanging in the lights, on tables, in display cases and on the wall. The plaques were used in many types of lighting in the home, so the way they are used is vast. There are many ones lit up and some you turn on the lights behind them. The Blair Museum has the largest collection of lithophanes, so there are lots to look at. There are scenes of famous artwork, landscapes, people, religious figures and more. So not really one kind of picture on each piece.
The museum will not take long to see, but one should really slow down and inspect the artwork. A guided tour is a must. The museum is accessible to all, no real limitations on getting around the museum .
This is a hidden gem with a type of artwork that is not known by many. Now is the time to turn on the lights and explore the Blair Museum of Lithophanes.