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How one Ohioan’s furniture made it to the Met

  • December 14, 2023

When the Metropolitan Museum of Art reached out to Ernest Hershberger with an opportunity to collaborate, the Amish furniture maker was stunned.

“You know, I knew about them,” Hershberger said. “But I did say, ‘Well, who’s the Met?’ And I still get made fun of for that.”

The fourth generation woodworker started learning the trade fresh out of grade school. When he got married, Hershberger and his wife opened their first furniture business in a converted chicken coop.

It didn’t take long for that business to evolve — now their extensive showroom is filled with finely crafted wooden tables and kitchen chairs.

“We’ve got all the upholstery stuff upstairs, and then there’s a downstairs, and an outdoor section,” Hershberger said.

But that’s not all. He unlocks a door at the back of the showroom.

“So this is a little bit more high end,” he said.

On the other side of the door, a gold leaf tunnel gives way to rooms full of high-end designer furniture. The pieces here are sleek and modern, with woodwork inspired by the arches in Roman architecture and Europe’s flying buttress cathedrals.

“We build one piece at a time,” Hershberger explained.

And each piece is beautiful. They’re solid hardwood, certified green and custom made — qualities that Hershberger said prompted New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to reach out.

The museum was looking for a company to design furniture based on famous works of art in their collection.

“They gave us a clean sheet of paper and said, ‘We want you to come to New York,’” Hershberger said. “‘We’re going to open up storehouses and artifacts that haven’t been seen by the general public for decades. And you have an open field to use anything you want as an inspiration.’”

Hershberger’s team eventually landed on seven

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