The Cleveland Museum of Art has been treating art lovers to special events and historic collections from across the globe for over a century. Best of all, it’s completely free to the public.
Whether you’re a tourist or Ohio local, an art aficionado or just looking for a fun date or afternoon with the kids, the Cleveland Museum of Art is a must-see in the city’s east side University Circle neighborhood, within the Wade Park District.
The Cleveland Museum of Art, founded in 1913, opened its doors in 1916. Its stated mission was to provide artistic experiences “for the benefit of all people forever.” To that end, the museum’s founders established endowments that still allow it to be accessible to all for free. The museum has only had nine directors (the current being William M. Griswold, named in 2014) and has consistently upheld its long-stated goal of being one of Ohio’s premier cultural, artistic, and civic institutions.
One of the Cleveland Museum of Art’s most popular collections is its extensive decorative arts exhibit, which features ornate Fabergé eggs and miniatures and glasswork, including stunning lamps designed by John Comfort Tiffany. Elaborate 18th-century French furniture, 18th-century Chinese porcelain, Italian Maiolica (painted pottery), and European silver, ceramics, and enamel round out the collection.
Overall, the Cleveland Museum of Art boasts nearly 45,000 art pieces from over 6,000 years of history. It’s particularly known for its Asian and African art collections.
One particularly notable exhibit features a wide array of Islamic art from Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Iran, and Iraq, especially those pieces from the 8th through 17th centuries. Miniature paintings, ceramic mosaics, and over 450 textiles provide visitors with an introduction to the long history of Muslim art and architecture, including calligraphy, iconography, and geometric patterns created with colored tiles.
The contemporary art collection at the Cleveland Museum of Art features work from the 1960s to the present day. Andy Warhol, Louise Bourgeois, Gabriel Orozco, and Mark Rothko are some of the display’s highlights.
If you’re visiting the museum with kids, check out the ARTLens Gallery, an interactive experience that uses the power of technology to allow visitors to create artwork of their own and enjoy masterpieces up close and personal. You can also take stroller tours designed for you and your little ones to have an inspiring day at the museum together. Art Stories, which feature story time at the museum followed by gallery tours designed with kids in mind, takes place every Thursday morning.
In addition to the regular displays and guided tours, the Cleveland Museum of Art also hosts frequent special events, such as talkbacks from local artists, lectures, film screenings, music and other live performances, and classes. On specific nights, MIX opens up the museum to the public for specialty cocktails, dancing, and special exhibitions.
The Cleveland Museum of Art is open on Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays. If you’re at the museum during mealtime, brunch, lunch, and dinner are available at the on-site Provenance Café.