ae insider antique Christmas

Antique Christmas at the Taft Museum of Art

See Cincinnati’s annual showcase of holiday seasons past at the Taft Museum of Art. 

Tiny figures, art-glass deer and miniature baskets of eggs and apples sit frozen in time outside the small log cabin. A table rests on a woven rug just inside its front door, while up on the roof, Santa prepares to slide down the chimney.

The 19th-century miniature log cabin is on display as part of the Taft Museum of Art’s “Antique Christmas,” an annual trove of treasures on loan primarily from residents throughout Cincinnati and southwest Ohio.

The 12th season for the event returns in 2016, showcasing holiday decorations, traditional feather trees and a range of vintage toys that would have been right at home under the Christmas tree decades ago.

“Grandparents love to share this with grandchildren, and parents can look back at some of the things that were collected in the ’50s or even 1960s and have a little ‘Ooh, I remember that’ moment,” explains Lynne Ambrosini, the Taft Museum of Art’s director of collections and exhibitions. “It’s absolutely a time machine.”

Displays are nestled among the Taft Museum of Art’s permanent collection and throughout its galleries. Along with the tiny cabin, this year guests will encounter a wind-up nodding Santa, an exquisite collection of German nutcrackers and handcarved wooden toys from the 19th century.

The museum’s tabletop feather trees, a type of artificial tree that was first created in Germany in the 19th century but later gained popularity in the United States, are decorated with different trimmings, from old-fashioned cotton ornaments to one decked out in pink decorations. 

A 6-foot-tall tree on display at the museum honors this election year with a patriotic theme. It’s decorated with red, white and blue ornaments dating from the Civil War to the 1930s, including molded-paper Dresden ornaments from Germany, glass balls and strands of glass embellishments. 

“The glass at the time was all hand-blown,” Ambrosini says, “so they’re irregular and charming.”

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