Museum History
The Blair Museum of Lithophanes was founded by Laurel Gotshall Blair (1909-1993), a native Toledoan whose father had opened the Blair Realty and Investment Company in 1908. Blair Realty was a major developer in Toledo in the 1920s, creating such communities as the upscale Heatherdowns with its own country club. Mr. Blair attended Scott High School and the University of Michigan, and like his father before him, served as President of the Toledo Board of Realtors.

 

A born collector, Laurel Blair, first discovered lithophanes in October 1961. He was attending a meeting of some collectors from the International Music Box Society in Berlin Heights, Ohio. There he saw something he’d never seen before -- two delicate porcelain pictures magically illuminated by the sunlight -- hanging in the window. He learned they were “lithophanes” and, as he later wrote, he “fell in love.”

 

Over the next several decades, Mr. Blair, truly a world traveler, amassed the largest collection of lithophanes in the world. In March, 1965, he opened a private museum in his home, displaying more than a third of his collection of over 2,300 lithophanes.

 

Laurel Blair with a small portion of his lithophane collection, c. 1965. Photo by Steve Warren

 

Prior to his death in 1993, Mr. Blair donated his collection to the City of Toledo. Dedicated volunteers worked diligently for nearly ten years, photographing and cataloguing the collection, and overseeing the renovation of a building located at the Toledo Botanical Garden. In July 2002, the new museum opened to the public in its transformed space.

 

In January 2004, Dr. Margaret Carney, the first museum curator since Laurel Blair, was hired. Working with the Advisory Board and City representatives, the museum curator has revised its membership program, expanded its public hours, offers special changing exhibitions annually, and authored the first book on the subject of lithophanes in 180 years.

 

In July, 2012, Kelly Sheehan took over leadership as Director, to continue the growth of the Museum with an emphasis on increased publicity and a broader funding base.

 

With Kelly Sheehan's retirement at the end of 2016, Stephanie Mattonie takes the lead as the new director at the start of 2017.

 

Laurel Blair with a small portion of his lithophane collection, c. 1965. Photo by Steve Warren
 

 

Tribute
Robert L. Huebner, 1921-2004

 

Robert Huebner (center) cutting the ribbon at the Grand Opening of the Blair Museum on July 11, 2002 with his wife, Posy Huebner, and Mayor Jack Ford.
Gregory A. Knott, 1947-2010

 

Gregory Knott speaking at the Grand Opening of the Blair Museum of Lithophanes, July 11, 2002.
“Banana George” Blair 1915-2013

 

“Banana George” Blair in Paris, 2005.
Rose Ann “Posy” Huebner, 1923-2014

 

Posy at her 90th birthday party at The Toledo Botanical Garden, April 2013. Photo by Tom Sheehan.
Governance
Blair Museum Advisory Board

Dennis Garvin, Treasurer

Claire Kirsner, Secretary

Pat Scharf, President

Stacey Scharf, Membership

Dennis Seffernick, Vice President

Chuck Williams

 

Blair Museum Associate Board

Georgia (GeeGee) Blair

Peggy Grant

Jim Larrow, Gift Shop

Bill Mies

Sandra Wiseley

 

Friends of the Blair Museum, Inc., incorporated in 2008, is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) that provides financial, operational, and artistic support for the Blair Museum of Lithophanes.

 

Friends of the Blair Museum, Inc., Board
Barbara Brown, Secretary

Dennis Garvin, Treasurer

Mary Karazim, Vice President

Marti Osnowitz, Development

Pat Scharf, President

Dennis Seffernick

Chuck Williams

 

Museum
Lisa Ward, City of Toledo

Stephanie Mattoni, Director

 

Volunteer Opportunities
The Blair Museum is staffed on the weekends and tours provided by volunteer docents. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact the curator at curator@lithophanemuseum.org or voice mail 419-245-1356.

 

 

Membership
Become a member.

 

 

Contact
For more information or to schedule a tour contact curator@lithophanemuseum.org