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Blair Museum of Lithophanes is closing


The museum has the largest collection of lithophanes in the world. It has been part of the Toledo Botanical Garden since 2002.


The Blair Museum of Lithophanes has sat on Elmer Drive in west Toledo for 17 years. In two weeks, it will be closing its doors for good.


Tucked away in the Toledo Botanical Garden, the museum is one of the city's best-kept secrets. The decision was made to remove the museum from its current location after the Metroparks system took it over full time last year. 

Scott Carpenter with the Metroparks said conversations were had about the space, as the museum is only open for a few hours a week just six months out of the year. The hope is to utilize the building for something that can be enjoyed year-round.  

However, museum director Julia Darrah said Metroparks representatives have not sat down with the museum's board and will not respond to e-mails.


"We ultimately want to stay where we are. The board has put in lots of time and effort into creating this location and it has been taken away from us," Darrah said.


The Metroparks system is in control of the building, however, the city of Toledo has ownership of the museum's collection.


The future for the Blair Museum is

unknown. Larry Durholt with the museum said that at this point, the collection could move anywhere in the world.


Filled with porcelain creations from night lights to beer steins, the museum has something of interest for just about anyone. The artistry behind the wide array of lithophanes is truly something to be admired. For those unfamilar, lithophanes are translucent, three-dimensional translucent porcelain plaques which reveal detailed images when back-lit, the creation of which requires plenty of patience and precision from the artist.


The lithophane museum was created by Toledo native and Scott High School graduate Laurel Gotshall Blair in March 1965, soon after he discovered his love for the art form. Blair quickly amassed the largest collection of lithophanes in the world, with 2,300 pieces. The museum's first location was in his own private home, where Blair displayed a third of his treasures.

Blair died in 1993, but first donated the collection to the city of Toledo. Volunteers worked for near 10 years to renovate the building for the museum's current location in the Toledo Botanical Garden. There, the pieces of art have stayed since 2002.


The museum will be closed at the end of October, giving you just a little more than two weeks to check things out for what could be the last time. 


As for the collection, that is owned by the city. It is unclear at this time what will happen during the museum's transition. 

Carpenter said that the Metroparks don't have a plan for the building yet. However, he hopes it can be transformed into something that will bring even more people to the Toledo Botanical Garden throughout year. 




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