The Ohio Arts Council's Riffe Gallery presented Age of Optimism: Ohio Builds a Statehouse from August 15 through October 26, 1996. The exhibition explores Ohio during the time the Statehouse was designed and shows how economic, social and cultural forces shaped the construction of the building. Organized by Jeff Darbee and Nancy Recchie, historic preservation consultants based in Columbus, Age of Optimism strives to place the Statehouse in context. The exhibition examines our nation from the late 1830s to the eve of the Civil War. It explores the trends in art, architecture, fashion and the decorative arts that shaped the Statehouse's design. The exhibition includes representative objects and images from the period between 1838 and 1861.
Featured artists include A.W. Agard, Bierstadt, Robert Brandt, Fredrick E. Cohen, Thomas Cole, William Coles, Thomas Doughty, Roert Duncanson, Goday, George Innes, Nancy Irwin, Eliza Johnson, Thomas Dow Jones, John F. Kensett, Sophia Ann Naftel, Sarah Owens, Catherine Custer Spacht, Timothy Sturgeon, James Montgomery, Jason Tinson, and Thomas Worthington Whitterage.