Cleveland Museum of Art from the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

Cleveland Museum of Art from the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

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The CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART is acknowledged as one of the finest art museums in the U.S. Its collections, facilities, and programs have an international reputation. The museum, incorporated in 1913 and opened to the public on 6 June 1916, was made possible byHINMAN B. HURLBUT†, JOHN HUNTINGTON†, and HORACE KELLEY†, all of whom had bequeathed money specifically for an art museum, as well as by JEPTHA H. WADE I†, whose WADE PARK property had been donated in part for the site of such a facility. The Neoclassic building of white Georgian marble that formed the original museum was designed by the Cleveland firm of HUBBELL & BENESand constructed at a cost of $1.25 million. During the tenure of FREDERIC ALLEN WHITING† as the CMA’s first director (1913-30), a number of local families, including the Allens, Holdens, Huntingtons, Hurlbuts, Nortons, Warners, Severances, and Wades, contributed works of art to the growing facility. In 1919 the first Annual Exhibition of Cleveland Artists & Craftsmen was held. It subsequently became known as the MAY SHOWWM. M. MILLIKEN† served as second director from 1930-58. During the 1940s and 1950s, a series of large bequests, including the Rogers Bequest and the Severance Fund, allowed the CMA to purchase works and build its collections on a regular basis.

In 1958, three important events occurred in the museum’s history. On March 4, 1958, the CMA’s first addition was completed, doubling its size and enclosing its outdoor garden court. During that year the CMA also received the sizable LEONARD C. HANNA, JR.†, bequest, which provided the funds necessary to function in the mainstream of international art collecting, and Sherman Emery Lee became the museum’s third director. Lee was primarily responsible for the development of the museum’s Oriental collection, which ranks as one of the finest in the country. Another wing was opened in 1971, containing special exhibition galleries, classrooms, lecture halls, and the education department. A third addition to accommodate the museum’s extensive library, as well as 9 new galleries, was completed during the tenure of the fourth director, Evan Hopkins Turner. Under Turner (1983-93), the CMA celebrated its 75th anniversary with shows on Japan, Picasso, and Egypt. While it began charging admission to certain special exhibitions in 1992, it maintained its traditional policy of free admission to the permanent collection. Robert P. Bergman became the museum’s fifth director in 1993.

The museum’s attendance increased notably after 1995 with the introduction of nationally touring commercial exhibits such as Pharaohs: Treasures of Egptian Art from the Louvre (1995) and Vatican Treasures: Early Christian, Renaissance and Baroque Art from the Papal Collections (1998). Under director Robert Bergman (1993-1999), the CMA strenthened its photography collection, as well as its holdings in Indian and Southeast Asian, Early American and medieval art and artifacts. By the early 2000s the museum’s exhibitions also had come to include more contemporary artwork such as modern sculpture, projected images, digital art, and installation pieces.

In October 2005 the CMA began the fourth and largest expansion project in its history. Designed by Uruguayan architect Rafael Vinoly, the renovation would increase gallery space substantially by reconstructing the museum’s east and west wings. The renovation mandated that much of the museum’s permanent collection be placed in storage. For much of 2006, CMA’s University Circle facilities were closed entirely to the public. The largest financial contributions to the renovation project, scheduled for completion in 2011, came from the GEORGE GUND FOUNDATION and the State of Ohio.

Following the retirement in 2005 of Katherine Lee Reed, the museum’s sixth director (2000-2005), Timothy Rub of the Cincinnati Museum of Art was chosen as the CMA’s new CEO and director.

Cleveland Museum of Art Archives, Cleveland Museum of Art.

Wittke, Carl. The First Fifty Years: A History of the Cleveland Museum of Art From 1916-1966 (1966).

Leedy, Walter C. Cleveland Builds an Art Museum: Patronage, Politics, and Architecture, 1884-1916 (1991).

Witchey, Holly Rarick. Fine Arts in Cleveland: An Illustrated History (1994).

Last Modified: 03 Jul 2011 01:40:32 PM 

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