The Cincinnati Art Museum’s decorative arts and design collection includes almost 7,000 works of art. It contains furniture, glass, ceramics, metalwork, and architectural design from North America, the UK, and Europe, made between the seventeenth century and today.
Decorative arts and design objects were among the first artworks acquired by the museum when it was founded in 1881. Initially, this collection focused on objects that museum founders felt would most inspire local makers and manufacturers, such as copies of European masterworks in metal by Elkington & Co. and exemplary British ceramics produced by Royal Worcester. Soon, the collection grew to include ceramics by the Cincinnati Pottery Club and The Rookwood Pottery and glass by Louis Comfort Tiffany, among other things. Throughout the museum’s first one hundred years, important collections of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century English silver; nineteenth-century English and European ceramics, eighteenth-century French furnishings, Cincinnati furniture and metalwork; folk art; and modern and contemporary design were added. Today, we continue to build on and out from these strengths to further diversify the artists and geographical regions represented and the stories that our collection can tell.
The decorative arts and design department uses the museum’s collection to generate new scholarship presented through exhibitions, publications, and digital projects.
Amy Miller Dehan, Curator of Decorative Arts and Design, joined the Cincinnati Art Museum in 2001. She earned degrees in art history from the College of William and Mary and the University of South Carolina. She is also an alum of The Winterthur Fall Institute and the Attingham Summer School. In Cincinnati, she was part of the curatorial team that developed The Cincinnati Wing: The Story of Art in the Queen City and has worked on various installations of the museum’s American and European art collections. Her past exhibition projects have covered a range of subjects stretching from historical silver to musical instruments to contemporary art in ceramic, glass, and wood. Dehan’s publications include Joseph Urban: Unlocking an Art Deco Bedroom (2022), Cincinnati Silver, 1788–1940 (2014), Outside the Ordinary: Contemporary Art in Glass, Wood and Ceramics from the Wolf Collection (2009), and several exhibition catalog essays and journal articles. Early in her career, Dehan held internships and fellowships at the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.