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Treasures From Wheeling’s Rich History on Display

Examples of some of Wheeling’s finest glass and artwork are part of Oglebay Institute’s special exhibits marking the city’s 250th anniversary.

We are fortunate to enjoy several museums and many programs in the tri-state region that appeal to antique enthusiasts and history buffs. Every week there are library programs, special events and club meetings that delve into local history and Wheeling’s past.

Soon Wheeling will mark its 250-year birthday and Oglebay Institute has three special exhibits opening Thursday, May 30, that celebrate the rich history of Wheeling through a display of iconic glass, examples of artwork and George J. Kossuth’s photographs.

The exhibits will remain on display throughout the summer. The progressive style opening reception is from 4:30-7 p.m. at both the Glass and Mansion museums.

The Glass Museum will show-off 50 outstanding examples of Wheeling-made glass from the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection which houses the famous Sweeney Punch Bowl.

Beautiful glass has been a staple in the industrial life of Wheeling since the city’s earliest days. Pieces in the exhibit include a candlestick designed to represent the sandstone towers of the Wheeling Suspension Bridge, a handcarved glass brooch that is one of the few examples of a carved glass cameo made in America, and a pressed window pane that is the first marked piece of glass made in Wheeling.

The public also will discover Wheeling’s rich artistic heritage and the enduring value, insights and influence of the artists’ work through an exhibit that explores the role of artists in our culture and history.

Oglebay Institute has selected 25 artworks by Wheeling artists that are vivid examples of our abundant heritage from artists such as John “JJ” Owens, who will be inducted posthumously into the Wheeling Hall of Fame on June 7 at the WesBanco Arena.

These 25 works by Wheeling artists are on display in the Mansion Museum. Also on display at the mansion, will be a second exhibit featuring the photographs of George Kossuth, titled, ” Listening Through the Lens: The Musical Portraits of George J. Kossuth.”

Born in 1886, the child of Hungarian immigrants, Kossuth was a master of the arts and humanities — photography, music, art, the written word, theater, gardening, wood-working and restoration, his work is interwoven with the history of Wheeling.

Kossuth’s extraordinary portraits immortalize internationally-renowned musicians, singers, composers and conductors who visited Wheeling, while his 1219 Chapline St. studio was a haven for the music world in the early-mid 1900s. These portraits also became a sort of “diary” of Kossuth’s own personal influences, aspirations and interests that capture the inner personality and qualities of his subjects.

His nearly 50-year career contributed to the cultural movement in the community and left a legacy that is still felt today.

These three exhibits are important tributes to Wheeling’s past and its bright future. Open daily, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., May 30 – Sept. 2 at the Glass and Mansion museums in Oglebay Park, the exhibits are free with museum admission. Don’t miss them.

For comments or suggestions on local treasures to be featured in Antique of the Week, Maureen Zambito can be reached via email at zambitomaureen@hotmail.com or by writing in care of this newspaper.

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