Abstract

This essay explores the circumstances surrounding the Guelph Treasure exhibition in the United States in 1930–31. A group of eighty-two gold, silver, and gem-encrusted liturgical objects from the Church of St Blaise in Brunswick, Germany, the Treasure was at the time aptly described as the greatest single group of medieval objects ever offered for sale in America. It was offered by a group of German dealers who had purchased the Treasure from a German duke. Travelling from venue to venue, it captivated audiences in New York, Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco. As it travelled, portions of the collection were purchased by various museums and collectors, most notably Cleveland and Chicago, and it helped to establish the career of curator and then director of the Cleveland Museum of Art, William Milliken. Eventually, a large portion returned to a museum in Germany, thereby permanently dismantling the striking and historic group.

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