Filling in the Gaps

Look closely at these pictures of Elaine’s room, taken in 1930. What differences do you notice from the museum’s recreation of her bedroom?

Not all objects from Elaine’s room made the trip from Chicago to Cincinnati, or from Elaine’s later homes into the museum’s collections. By examining a handful of archival photographs of the room, the curatorial team identified several important elements missing from the museum’s holdings. These included several examples from Elaine’s collection of dog figurines, a carafe and tray sitting on the lower shelf of her bedside table, and a ceramic head overlooking her dressing table. Although these objects may seem like minor details, they were vital parts of Joseph Urban’s total work of art and Elaine’s tastes and interests. When possible, period replacement objects matching those pictured in the room were purchased through private sale or auction, or borrowed or donated from private collectors.

Finding A Lost Dog

Ceramic dogs from Elaine’s collection peeked out of nearly every niche of her bedroom. This ceramic dalmatian is a doppelganger for the one that once stood guard on the bottom shelf of the bookcase next to her bed. Based on a single photograph of the bookcase, a dealer of Staffordshire dog figurines helped the curatorial team track down a visual match for the dalmatian. Other animal figurines dotting the bedroom were loaned by Elaine’s family or sourced through eBay after many painstaking hours of searching.

A Dramatic Makeover

This ceramic head, which once gazed out of a nook above Elaine’s dressing table, found a new life in her Cincinnati home as a lamp. Elaine’s family generously loaned it to the museum for this exhibition. When the head arrived at the museum, objects conservator Kelly Rectenwald carefully extracted the lamp parts and gave the ceramic a thorough surface cleaning to refresh its colors. After her dramatic makeover, the head was ready to resume her place in Elaine’s recreated bedroom.