The Anna Safley Houston Museum of Decorative Arts is an integral part of the Bluff View art district in downtown Chattanooga. The museum is a quick stroll from the Hunter Museum of American Art, the River Gallery Sculpture Garden, fine and casual dining, and the Walnut Street walking bridge that crosses the Tennessee River. A tour of the museum, with its extensive collection of Victorian art glass and antiques, provides visitors with insight into Victorian life, the life of the collector, and life in the historic Bluff View neighborhood.
Visitors to the Houston Museum are consistently struck by the quality of Anna Houston’s glass objects, from water pitchers (trustees counted 15,000 in her barn after her death) to a group of miniature oil “courting” lamps. She collected very rare examples of cut glass, satin glass, Peach Blow pitchers and cruets, Burmese glass objects, cameo glass, and cranberry glass. Manufacturers represented in the collection include Steuben, Tiffany, Durand, Loetz, and Fenton.
Though art glass was her specialty, Anna purchased American antique furniture too. Art glass is displayed atop sugar chests, corner cupboards, tables, and dressers. The museum displays Anna’s chairs and rockers, including a hickory “nanny cradle” dating to 1810. Music boxes, scrimshaw, coverlets and quilts, and antique German steins help round out a collection that represents many facets of Victorian life.