Artifacts from Cincinnati’s fossil, architectural and brewing histories branching out

CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) is branching out to libraries across Hamilton County and into Clermont County as part of their Curate My Community initiative. Historic artifacts and scientific specimens will be installed in several branches of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County and the Clermont Country Public Library throughout the month.

curate-my-communityAmongst the CMC collection items moving to new locations are a collection of paleobotany specimens, items excavated from 19th century privies, brewing artifacts, Ordovician fossils and a collection of drawing tools that once belonged to architect Samuel Hannaford. In total, nearly 200 collection items will be installed in 18 library branches in the month of December. Additional branches in both Hamilton and Clermont counties will receive artifacts over the next several months.

With the temporary closure of the Cincinnati History Museum and Museum of Natural History & Science to facilitate extensive repairs and restoration to Union Terminal, CMC is bringing those museums to you. Iconic pieces of Cincinnati’s natural and manmade history, and staples of Cincinnati childhoods, will continue to educate and delight visitors, albeit in new locations. As our home undergoes its restoration, CMC’s mission will continue with gusto.

“The Curate My Community initiative is our opportunity to take the museum into the community and share our collections, research and inspiration with new audiences,” says Elizabeth Pierce, president and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “Partnering with the library system is a great way to inspire curiosity and to allow books and tangible objects to complement each other as people thirst to learn more.”

Various eras of Cincinnati’s natural and manmade history will come to life through artifacts and scientific specimens. The Greater Cincinnati region is world-renowned for its extensive collection of Late Ordovician fossils, a sampling of which will be on display in Bond Hill and Goshen. Arrow points, knives and tools made from animal bone will give a glimpse into the lives of the Native American people who called Madisonville home between 1400 and 1650. Medicine bottles, beer bottles and dinnerware excavated from privies, late 19th century outhouses, will be on display at several branches, using discarded items to turn back the clock on everyday life. The drawing tools of architect Samuel Hannaford, of Music Hall and City Hall fame, will be on view at the Clifton branch. And no history of Cincinnati is complete without talking about beer. Brewery artifacts from 19th century brewers including Christian Moerlein, John Hauck and the Lion Brewery will also be on display.

Below is a sampling of the CMC collection items that can be found at the following Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County branches.

Blue Ash Branch
When it comes to fossils, we often think of animals. But fossilized plants can reveal valuable information about prehistoric atmospheres and climates. A selection of 13 fossilized plants will be on display, including leaves, ferns and petrified wood.

Bond Hill Branch
Over 440 million years ago, the Greater Cincinnati region was covered by a tropical sea teeming with diverse marine life. Today, the region is visited and studied by paleontologists from around the globe. An exhibit of 16 Ordovician era fossils from CMC’s collections will be on display, including prehistoric coral, sponges and gastropods.

Cheviot Branch
Amongst the collection of nine artifacts excavated from a 19th century privy are a clear glass milk bottle from the French Bros. Bauer Company and a glass bottle from the Hick’s Capudine Company, which was used to relieve headaches and reduce fever.

Clifton Branch
A collection of drawing tools belonging to Music Hall architect Samuel Hannaford will be on display, including T-squares, pens, an ink well, silver protractor and folding rule.

Corryville Branch
Glass candy containers, porcelain plates and bottles, including a Hudepohl Beer bottle, are some of the artifacts excavated from a 19th century privy now on display.

Green Township Branch
A 1940 Crosley Model 18AN radio, made by the Crosley Radio Corporation, the largest radio manufacturer in the world at the time, is on display.

Madisonville Branch
Over thirty artifacts, including arrow points, carbonized food and pendants with bird and bear symbols, excavated from an archaeological site near Madisonville that once belonged to the Native American population that called the area home from 1400 to 1650.

Mariemont Branch
A magnificent Brazilian geode will greet visitors with its gorgeous array of clear and purple crystals nestled inside a seemingly ordinary piece of rock.

Northside Branch
A railroad switch light, used to indicate if a track was open or closed, will be on display. The switch light, once mounted on top of a railroad track switch, indicated the position of the switch and whether the track was open or straight ahead with a green light, or if the track was set to turn out with a red light.

Norwood Branch
On display are six pairs of shoes from the United States Shoe Corporation, headquartered in Cincinnati in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, an example of some of the earliest name brand shoes at a time when shoemaking was a more generic, unspecific industry turning out shoes made to fit either left or right foot with minimal comfort.

Oakley Branch
A large milling machine from the Cincinnati Screw and Tap Company will be returning to familiar territory. The Cincinnati Screw and Tap Company was a precursor of the Cincinnati Milling Machine Company, whose headquarters were moved to Oakley in 1907. Two machine tools medals from the Industrial Exposition of 1884 will be on display alongside the milling machine.

Pleasant Ridge Branch
Artifacts from Cincinnati’s brewing history will be on display, including a glass beer bottle from the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company, a beer bottle from the John Hauck Brewing Company and beer steins from Schulmer’s Café and Grammar’s Café.

Reading Branch
A conductor’s visa originally used in Union Terminal will be on display. The visa is a triangular, lighted metal sign that sat at the ticket seller’s counter in Union Terminal’s concourse to indicate the railroad and destination for that particular ticket window.

Symmes Township Branch
Privy artifacts provide a wide scope of 19th century life with a glass cottage cheese jar, a cholera medicine bottle and a beer bottle from the George Wiedemann Brewing Company, Kentucky’s largest brewery in the late 1800s.

Westwood Branch
Items on display include artifacts excavated from a 19th century privy such as glassware, porcelain and a medicine bottle from Foertmeyer Pharmacy, which was founded by a graduate of the Cincinnati College of Pharmacy at the end of the 19th century.

Wyoming Branch
On display is a salesman’s sample wagon from the Harry W. Monning Company, a local company that sold wagons in the late 19th century.

Clermont County Public Library branches

Union Township Branch
A marble bust of George Washington, carved between 1838 and 1844 by Cincinnati artist Hiram Powers, is on display. Powers spent several years of his early adulthood in Cincinnati before moving to Washington, DC and then to Florence, Italy. In his own time he was well-respected as a sculptor and today his artwork can be seen in the Smithsonian American Art Museum , the Corcoran Gallery of Art and several other institutions across the country.

Goshen Branch
CMC holds the largest collection of Late Ordovician fossils in the world. A selection of 50 fossils from that collection will be on display, including Ohio’s state fossil, the Isotelus maximus trilobite.

For a complete list of Curate My Community locations visit