The 10 Best Art Galleries & Museums In Cleveland, Ohio

Julie Daunt

Located on the shores of Lake Erie and known as the “Rock and Roll Capital of the World,” Cleveland is the undisputed cultural center of Ohio. With a seemingly endless list of art centers and cultural venues, we’ve curated a list of ten must-visit museums and galleries.

Transformer Station

Art Gallery

Built in 1924 by the Cleveland Railway Company, the Transformer Station was originally a vital cog in providing power to the Detroit Avenue Streetcar Line. However, from 1949 onwards its purpose changed, and in 2010 it became a contemporary art space. Following renovations by Process Creative Studio, the Transformer Station is now a fusion of classical architecture with modern details; the building’s original masonry and ironwork was preserved. The cavernous space also houses a crane designed by the Cleveland Armington Crane Company, which is said to lift a weight of 15 tons. The Transformer Station is home to the Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Foundation, an organization that focuses on up and coming talent in the contemporary art world, particularly in the mediums of photography and film. It also serves a venue for lectures, workshops, performances and other events which promote the contemporary arts in Ohio as well as internationally.

h Street Studios

Art Gallery

Contemporary Art Museum Sarahnrehm/WikiCommons
Located in the Gordon Square Arts District is massive art space 78th Street Studios. Housed within this impressive 170,000 square foot warehouse are more than 40 galleries, showrooms, workshops and studios, making it the biggest creative complex in Northeast Ohio. The space now occupies an entire district of Cleveland. The building’s history dates back to 1905, and was originally the home to the Baker Electric Motor Vehicle Company. The building changed its function during the 1980s to become a creative space. However, elements of the building’s past are still visible, from the old hardwood floors, to the freight elevators used to move cars up and down the building. Every thirdFriday of each month, all 40 venues inside this colossal art space open their doors to the public, offering cutting-edge exhibitions, musical performances and delicious food. This multisensory art experience is unique and unlike anything else in Ohio. It is no surprise that 78th Street Studios is the recipient of a number of awards, including the title of “Cleveland’s Best Arts Event” by Scene Magazine.

Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland

Art Gallery, Museum

Cleveland Art Museum zenbikescience
Reopened in 2012, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (MOCA) is Cleveland’s leading contemporary arts venue. Following renovations by London architecture firm Farshid Moussavi, the museum is now at the forefront of contemporary art, design and history. Established in 1968, it has exhibited the works by a number of iconic artists, fromLouise Bourgeois, David Hammons to Gordon Matta-Clark. At the core of the museum’s ethos is a desire to challenge and educate audiences about contemporary art. The museum achieves this through its regularly changing exhibition, as well as its acclaimed education and public programs. MOCA is a non-collecting institution, meaning it does not have its own permanent art collection. But this also allows MOCA to keep a step ahead of many other contemporary art galleries, devoting the entire space to new and fresh talent.

The Cleveland Museum of Art


Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland
Courtesy of Contessa Gallery
Another well-established gallery on Cleveland’s art scene is the Cleveland Museum of Art, located in the Wade Park District. Opened in 1916, the Cleveland Museum of Art strives to reach every kind of audience and to help them engage with the arts. Since its inception, the museum has been pivotal in bringing visual art to the Rock and Roll city. Over the years, the museum has expanded, although the original white Georgian marble building is still visible. The museum has received a number of donations and bequests, which have helped develop a permanent art collection that includes 43,000 artworks from all around the world. Furthermore, the museum is has one of the leading arts educational programs in the country, and is home to the Ingalls Library, which is one of the largest art libraries in the United States.

Contessa Gallery

Art Gallery

Contessa Gallery, Lyndhurst
Courtesy of Cleveland State University
Over the last 15 years, the Contessa Gallery has established itself as a must-visit art gallery in Cleveland. Founded and owned by Steven Hartman, the gallery is driven by three main principles: passion, integrity and education. The Contessa Gallery is collector-oriented, resulting in a careful and high-quality selection of artworks on display. The Gallery showcases a wide variety of artworks, from modern and contemporary sculpture, to pre-20th century pieces and in considered a leading gallery nationally and internationally. Previously featured artists include Tom Wesselmann, Chuck Close and Jasper Johns.

The Galleries at CSU

Art Gallery

In its second year, the Galleries at Cleveland State University (CSU) are located right in the heart of Cleveland’s cultural centre. Situated on the corner of Euclid Avenue and East 13th Street, and near the famous Playhouse Square, the Galleries at CSU are a state-of-the-art venue with a mission to promote the contemporary arts in Cleveland. Housed in the historic Cowell and Hubbard Building, the space not only provides a venue for audiences to appreciate innovative art, but also acts as a stepping-stone for students wishing to break into the art world. Since its inception the gallery has steadily grown a following, with visitors coming from other parts of Ohio, as well as abroad. The Galleries at CSU are also a venue for the People’s Art Show, a Cleveland tradition since 1983, where nearly 350 artists exhibit their work in a celebration of diverse talent.

River Gallery

River Gallery

Founded by the parents of the current owner, Ara Hamamjian, in 1970, the River Gallery still strives to support and encourage the local arts in Cleveland. The gallery showcases a wide variety of artwork, including contemporary painting, metalworks, glass, ceramics, photography and even jewellery. Exhibited artists include abstract painter Lainard Bush, and craftsman and sculptor Chadd Lacy. Recent exhibitions have covered a range of themes, from miniatures and jewellery, to their summer exhibition with works by landscape artist Bruno Capolongo, ceramist John Nickerson, and jeweller Qandle Qadir. The River Gallery is a hidden gem on the west side of the Rocky River.

River Gallery, 19046 Old Detroit Rd, Rocky River, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. +1 440 331 8406

Spaces Gallery

Spaces Gallery

The Spaces Gallery, located in downtown Cleveland, is an innovative art space that provides a setting for artists and visitors to experiment and explore. Formed by a group of Cleveland artists in 1978, and developed from mere creative gatherings, The Spaces Gallery has been housed in the Superior Viaduct since 1990 and runs programs to promote and nurture the arts in the Ohio City. These programs include their Research and Development (R&D) projects, the SPACES World Artists Program (SWAP), and The Vault. Artists involved in the R&D program are given a platform to articulate their artistic ideas through an exhibition or project. SWAP is a residency program that fosters cultural exchange between Ohio residents and the rest of the world, and provides another avenue for artists to develop their oeuvre. Operating since 2010, The Vault is a converted walk-in safe that provides a venue for video and other media art exhibitions. Artworks are added to The Vault on a regular basis, and viewers can decide which media art piece they want to experience through the use of a remote control. A unique creative experience, the Spaces Gallery is artist-led and at the forefront of contemporary art in Cleveland.

Spaces Gallery, 2220 Superior Viaduct, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. +1 216 621 2314

The Bonfoey Gallery

The Bonfoey Gallery

A staple in Cleveland’s art scene, the Bonfoey Gallery has been representing local talent since it was opened by Asher D. Bonfoey in 1893. Considered one of Cleveland’s premier contemporary art spaces, the Bonfoey Gallery has been promoting the works of local, regional and international artists for over 117 years. Works featured in the gallery include paintings, drawings, photographs, limited edition prints, sculptures, glassworks and more, all by leading artists and designers. The gallery boasts an impressive portfolio of around 100 artists, and an extensive collection of over 2,000 works of art. The gallery’s framing service is also noteworthy, and is an important part of the gallery’s operation, as they still make frames by hand and gild to this day. Over the years, the Bonfoey Gallery has attracted a number of important visitors, such as John D. Rockefeller, who later recommended the gallery to his colleague, Henry Ford.

The Bonfoey Gallery, 1710 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. +1 216 621 0178

Convivium33 Gallery

Art Gallery

Convivium33 Gallery, whose name translates to “celebration and feast” in Latin, is a true celebration of Cleveland art. Part of the St. Josaphat Arts Hall, the gallery is dedicated to showcasing the best in contemporary art in all media forms. Although a relatively new gallery, its building dates back to 1915, and was once the St. Josaphat Roman Catholic Church for a small Polish congregation. In its day, the church played a vital role in the development of downtown Cleveland. However, in 1998, the parish ceased to operate, and the building was desanctified. It was purchased in 2002 by the artist Alenka Banco, who converted the nave of the old church building into the present day gallery.
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