Cincinnati Art Museum

Cincinnati Art Museum


Opened in 1881, the Cincinnati Art Museum is one of the country’s oldest visual arts institutions, and the first general art museum west of the Alleghenies to establish its own building. The Museum chose as its first director Alfred T. Goshorn, who had headed the country’s Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. The original edifice, designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style by architect James McLaughlin, is now surrounded by a later addition that features a Beaux Arts façade. The newest portion of the Museum, the Cincinnati Wing, opened in 2003.

It comprises fifteen new galleries covering 18,000 square feet displaying 400 objects, including selections of art-carved furniture, painting, sculpture, silver, ceramics, and arts and crafts metals, as well as art pottery from Cincinnati’s Rookwood Pottery Company. The story of Cincinnati’s artwork is woven through the galleries and placed in the context of five themes. The first addresses the theme of changing boundaries and demonstrates how the city developed from a frontier outpost, to Queen of the West, to Gateway to the West. The other themes include the sustaining of the arts by patrons, institutions, and industry; the rise of industrialization; art education through the Art Academy of Cincinnati; and the personal identity of the artists, which reflect diverse ethnic backgrounds, religious beliefs, and/or gender-specific issues. For $10, the curator-led tour promises to give SAM members a sense of the prominent place the visual arts have played in the city’s cultural life.