A gleaming little gem of a museum

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette today offers a nice overview of the new museum in town, Butler’s Maridon Museum, founded by Mary Hulton Phillips.

The institution she willed into being is a gleaming little gem of a museum, a gift to its street, its city and its region. Here or anywhere there is nothing quite like it, offering an idiosyncratic introduction to Chinese and Japanese art through the eyes of an American collector.

About half of the museum’s collection is on view in four galleries; most of the rest is in a study gallery for scholars and will be rotated into exhibits.
The wide-ranging Asian collection comprises more than 400 jade and ivory sculptures, tapestries, furniture, landscape paintings, scrolls and artifacts. The museum also houses more than 300 pieces of Meissen porcelain, one of the largest private collections in the country, with several pieces dating to the earliest days of production in the 18th century. The theme that unites these disparate objects and cultures is the human figure, to which Phillips was consistently attracted.

“They tell stories,” she said. “The Meissen pieces are very humorous, and that attracted me.”

Although the museum lies on my regular jogging route, I haven’t yet visited. But I’m interested particularly by the reported quirkiness of the collection. And I have thought all along that the little window that houses Mrs. Phillips’s first collected piece looks very like a drive-through window.