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Toledo Museum of Art Honors 1901 Founders with Site-Specific Installation by Glass Artist Beth Lipman

June 26, 2023

Beth Lipman, photo by Rich Maciejewski

The Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) will reimagine a 19th-century parlor in “ReGift: Beth Lipman,” a room-sized glass 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 entirely of glass mirrors a 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 consistently 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 fashioned many of the works for “ReGift” using glass presses donated by the Libbey Glass Company. 

“‘ReGift: Beth Lipman’ 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 draws inspiration for her sculptural practice from the still lifes of the late 1500s and early 1600s. Those works represent moments of splendor and excess that have a human impact on the natural world. Her sculptural processes become analogies for life cycles, pointing to natural and human systems that must continually adapt to survive. She works in colorless glass to encourage viewers to concentrate on the details. As light and reflections change, the appearance of an object can evolve. Lipman also finds inspiration in decorative arts, both in their aesthetics and purpose. She used the image of the furniture in the bookplate as a visual guide for “ReGift,” symbolically regifting the Libbeys’ legacy, an important element of Toledo’s history, back to the community. 

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. 

“As people share the history of the Toledo Museum of Art, much of the spotlight is dedicated to Edward Drummond Libbey. ‘ReGift’ calls attention to Florence Scott Libbey, a woman who is a significant part of the Museum’s history but is sometimes left out. 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.

“ReGift: Beth Lipman” is organized by the Toledo Museum of Art and curated by Diane C. Wright, senior curator of glass and contemporary craft.

About the Artist
Beth Lipman (American, b. 1971) uses glass to create an array of everyday items, such as plates, food and pitchers, that capture a fleeting moment in time. She has exhibited her work internationally at renowned institutions such as the Ringling Museum of Art (Sarasota, Florida), RISD Museum (Providence, Rhode Island), Gustavsbergs Konsthall (Gustavsberg, Sweden) and the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, D.C.). Her work is also held in permanent collections at several museums across the country. 

Lipman has received numerous awards including a USA Berman Bloch Fellowship, Pollock Krasner Grant, Virginia Groot Foundation Grant and a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant. She has been an Artist in Residence at the Alturas Foundation, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s Arts/Industry Program and the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship. Recent works include “Living History,” a large-scale site-specific commission for the Wichita Art Museum (Wichita, Kansas) that investigates the nature of time and place, and Belonging(s), a sculptural response to the life of Abigail Levy Franks for the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville, Arkansas).

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