The Smithsonian in Cincinnati: Exhibiting Prints at the Ohio Valley Centennial Exposition, 1888

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Traces the history and impact of the Smithsonian's Graphic Arts exhibition at the Ohio Valley and Central States Exposition in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1888. Focuses on the influence of Sylvester R. Koehler, curator of Graphic Arts at the Smithsonian at the time. Koehler's organizing principle was to portray art as an industry and demonstrate the technical processes of producing graphic art. Provides a detailed discussion of the exhibit, based on Koehler's guidebook, including important artists, media, and subjects. Discusses the George Perkins Marsh graphic arts collection, the first purchased by the Smithsonian in 1849. Traces the role of graphic arts in American art history and the tradition of graphic arts displays in Cincinnati. Includes 29 images of individuals, the exhibits, and graphic arts works displayed at the fair. The exhibit provided a history of print making in Europe and America, stimulated a new understanding of the parameters of art, reflected the growing importance of graphic arts in the visual literacy of the nation, and led to important new acquisitions for the Smithsonian's collections.


  • Koehler, S. R (Sylvester Rosa) 1837-1900
  • Marsh, George Perkins 1801-1882
  • National Museum of History and Technology (U.S.) Division of Graphic Arts
  • National Collections
  • Centennial Exposition of the Ohio Valley & Central States (1888 : Cincinnati, Ohio)


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Contains an appendix, pp. 214-222, with a list of artists and publishers represented at the Smithsonian's Graphic Arts Exhibit at the Ohio Valley Centennial Exposition, 1888. Wright is curator of the Graphic Arts Collection, National Museum of American History.

Contained within

Art as Image: Prints and Promotion in Cincinnati, Ohio (Book)

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,




  • Graphic arts
  • Art
  • Collectors and collecting
  • Exhibitions
  • History
  • Private collections
  • Art--American
  • Art--History
  • Art objects
  • Art--Private collections
  • Art--Exhibitions
  • Prints


  • United States
  • Cincinnati (Ohio)

Physical description

Number of pages : 44; Page numbers : 131-165, 214-222

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