At The Toledo Botanical Garden

5403 Elmer Drive

Toledo, Ohio 43615


Open May through October

Saturdays and Sundays 1 – 4 pm

The Museum

The worlds largest collection of antique lithophanes with a collection of over 2300 pieces.  The collection was amassed by Laurel Blair, a Toledo resident, Realtor, investor and art collector.  Prior to his death in 1993, he donated his collection to the City of Toledo.  A significant portion of the collection is on display.


Free tours given by volunteer docents are available during scheduled open hours.  Private tours are also available ($5.00 per person, minimum of $50.00), [email protected].

What Is a Lithophane


The Greek origin of the work means "light in stone" or to "appear in




How beautifully this describes these porcelain castings which, in ambient light, seem only to be bumpy surfaces forming a vague picture "and there is really nothing to see" as Mr. Blair always said.  But, when the ambient light is extinguished and the lithophane is backlit, a beautiful, three-dimensional picture appears in incredible depth and detail.



Popular in Europe in the mid-19th Century, lithophanes began their life as a thin sheet of beeswax. Artisans carved the pictures in the wax, a plaster-of-Paris mold was made from the wax carving and the porcelain slip was poured in this mold to dry. Removed from the mold, the porcelain was then fired. Where the picture is the lightest, the porcelain is very thin, and where it is darkest, the porcelain is very thick.



They functioned as candle shields, night lights, lampshades, fire screens, veilleuse-théières (tea warmers) and were hung in windows to catch the light.



The Blair Museum of Lithophanes has the largest collection of these unique porcelain pictures in the world. They offer a wide variety of subjects, reproductions of famous religious art, nature, land and seascapes, historic figures and architecture, and scenes of everyday life. Some are humorous, some are awe-inspiring, all are delightful.

Front entrance of the Blair Museum of LithophanesStained glass panel containing 9 lithophanes