The Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) will reimagine a 19th-century parlor in “Beth Lipman: ReGift,” a room-sized installation on view Aug. 12, 2023-Sept. 1, 2024. The site-specific artwork will offer a glimpse into the shingle- and colonial revival-style mansion of TMA co-founders Edward Drummond Libbey and Florence Scott Libbey with a three-quarter, life-sized diorama of the parlor. The sculptural installation — made of wood, glass and metal — recreates the Libbey’s bookplate, the only known image of the home’s interior as it was then furnished.
Lipman (American, b. 1971) began researching Florence Scott Libbey in 2018 and quickly identified with her passion and curiosity. The Wisconsin-based artist also found that recognition of Florence’s role in TMA’s history was eclipsed by that of her husband, Edward. When TMA selected Lipman as its 53rd Guest Artist Pavilion Project (GAPP) Artist in Residence in December 2022, Lipman utilized glass presses donated by the Libbey Glass Company to create architectural details for ReGift.
“‘Beth Lipman: ReGift’ reinvigorates the Libbeys’ impact on the Toledo community. Beth Lipman’s use of glass presses donated to the Toledo Museum of Art by Libbey Glass Company conceptually triangulates the founder’s business with the Museum and the Libbeys’ personal life. Through the GAPP residency, the project fulfills an institutional goal to continue to promote experimentation in the glass studio, connecting history to present creative practice,” said Diane Wright, the Toledo Museum of Art’s senior curator of glass and contemporary craft.
Lipman is well known for installations that activate the specific history of objects, individuals and institutions. Temporality and mortality-primary concerns linked to the Still Life tradition-are heightened through materiality. Her works in glass, wood, metal, photography, and video disrupt the mechanisms of fixed, grand narratives in order to emphasize evanescence at the heart of ‘vanitas’. She often works in colorless glass, which activates a perpetual optical evolution. As light and reflections change, the appearance of an object continually transforms.
Toledo has been hailed as The Glass City since the 1880s when many large glass manufacturers settled there. Edward Drummond Libbey moved his father’s New England Glass Company from Boston to Toledo in 1888 to take advantage of lower production costs. In Toledo, he met and married Florence Scott, who encouraged him to establish an art museum in Toledo after the couple had amassed artworks from their extensive travels. Edward and six other charter members founded the Toledo Museum of Art in 1901. He served as president until 1925 and funded the building construction.
“‘ReGift’ calls attention to Florence Scott Libbey, a woman who is a significant part of the Museum’s history but is sometimes overlooked. This installation introduces the community to her mission, view and contributions,” Lipman said.
Florence’s father, Maurice Scott, was a real estate developer in Toledo and gave the couple the land that TMA sits on today. Florence also donated her entire collection, predominantly ceramics and Asian art, to TMA in 1912. Following Edward’s death in 1925, Florence became a trustee and vice president of TMA and she remained devoted to the institution until her death in 1938, financing the east and west wings of the Museum and the Peristyle. She also left a portion of her estate in an endowment fund to support the Museum. The Libbey endowment continues to provide substantial funding for Museum operations and art acquisitions.
“By looking closely at an internal aspect of Florence Libbey’s life, ‘ReGift’ aims to emphasize her deeply personal commitment to the Museum. It underscores her involvement in building the Museum’s legacy and the Libbeys’ impact on Toledo,” said Lipman.
“Beth Lipman: ReGift” is organized by the Toledo Museum of Art and curated by Diane C. Wright, senior curator of glass and contemporary craft.