Rare Vase Coming Home to Brooklyn

Ellarslie Mansion Museum

After spending about one year in the Trenton City Museum, a rare ceramic vase is being carefully packaged for its return back to Brooklyn.

The vase was originally made in 1904 as part of a set of four, for the St. Louis World’s Fair, by the Trenton Potteries Company, and was on loan to Trenton form the Brooklyn Museum. But last month the museum asked for the return of the vase after Trenton fired the full-time director of the Ellarslie Museum.

“The return of the vase was requested because of concerns over its safety and security,” Brooklyn Museum spokeswoman Sally Williams said.

Brian Hill was fired in September after serving as the full-time museum director for ten years, along with 150 other employees of the city as part of an overall citywide reduction in workforce. In Hill’s stead an intern has been installed.

Hill’s layoff was a violation by the city of an agreement they had with the independent Trenton Museum Society, the owner of the collection which is kept in the city-owned Ellarslie Mansion in Cadwalader Park. The agreement stated that the city will pay the expense of having a full-time, qualified director in exchange for permission to exhibit the various artifacts in its facility.

“This all comes from not having a director,” museum society president Robert Cunningham said of the loss of the vase. “You can’t interact with other museums fluently without a director, and I think we’re now seeing evidence of that.”

Before Hill’s leaving he was working on organizing an exhibit which would bring all four vases in the set together for the first time since 1904, to be displayed at the Trenton Museum. The plans for this showing have fallen apart without the help of a director to put together the project.

“This seals the fate of our attempts to get the four vases back together again,” Cunningham said. “It’s something that was very important to us and should be to the city. I don’t think that the Brooklyn Museum has any plans to exhibit it or not. It could just go into storage.”


Shari has certainly been around the block. As a teacher, writer, former CEO and present day master chef, Shari can cover a human interest story with a flare and style hard to match anywhere. Born and raised in the streets, schools and institutions of Brooklyn, Shari is the epitome of Brooklyn life. Contact Shari at shari(at)