A trio of art museums have helped Cincinnati establish and maintain a longstanding artistic tradition. Whether it’s the Great Masters, Modern Art or Art from around the world, you’ll find it presented in a unique setting.
Contemporary Arts Center
The Contemporary Arts Center is located at Walnut and 6th Streets in Downtown Cincinnati. Even if you don’t notice the red Shepard Fairy wall mural as you walk by, you can’t miss Architect, Zaha Hadid’s bold concrete angles and wide expanses of glass. The building she designed is in perfect sync with the modern art showcased inside.
-70 Years of Modern Art
The CAC wants to “provide the opportunity for all people to discover the dynamic relationship between art and life…” They began their mission in 1939 when the Cincinnati Modern Art Society exhibited works from local collectors in the Cincinnati Art Museum basement. The 1940 showing of Picasso’s “Guernica” accompanied by 40 years of his art set the tone for decades of artistic milestones to come.
The CAC was among the first American museums to showcase Pop Art with a 1963 exhibit by Dine, Lichtenstein, Warhol and others. Buckminster Fuller has lectured at the CAC. Maya Angelou has performed there and Dale Chihuly’s fantasy glass artworks have enchanted many.
The 1990 Maplethorpe exhibit brought controversy, criminal obscenity charges and national publicity to the Contemporary Arts Center. A local prosecutor fought to close the exhibit, but the controversy, trial and the ultimate “not guilty” verdict, contributed to record show attendance.
The CAC continues to highlight local and nationally known contemporary artists. In addition to a calendar of special events the museum offers a number of exhibits and these programs:
-The CAC UnMuseum
The Contemporary Arts Museum transformed the sixth floor into the UnMuseum, a “participatory art” experience for children with artworks commissioned for young audiences, interactive projects, school tours, after-school clubs, family days and “experimental” classrooms.
-Selections From Cincinnati
In keeping with the “Society’s” original tradition, the CAC offers a changing exhibit of works from local collectors.
Learn how to look at art with a three week Saturday program with tours of Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati Art Museum, and a local gallery. Call the museum for fee information.
-Contemporary Arts Center Hours
–Monday – 10 am – 9 pm (FREE after 5 pm)
–Wednesday – Friday: 10 am – 6 pm
–Saturday & Sunday: 11 am – 6 pm
–Adults- $7.50, Seniors (65+) -$6.50
–Children (3-13 )- $4.50
–Members and Children under 3- Free
–The $45 dollar annual membership includes free admission.
For additional information see the Contemporary Arts Center Website or call 513-345-8400.
The Taft Museum of Art
The Taft Museum of Art is located in the Baum-Longworth-Sinton-Taft House, a National Historic Landmark building at the southeast edge of Downtown Cincinnati. Before it became a museum, the Federal architecture styled building was the residence of a long line of Cincinnati notables, including Martin Baum, Nicholas Longworth, Charles Phelps Taft and his wife, Anna Sinton-Taft. The home is also the site where William Howard Taft, Charles Taft’s half brother, accepted the 1908 presidential nomination. location.
-From Grand Home to Intimate Museum
In 1927 Anna Sinton-Taft and Charles Phelps Taft, bequeathed their home and 690 piece art collection to the People of Cincinnati. After renovations, the building opened as the Taft Museum in 1932. Recent modernizations and additions have done little to change the museum’s atmosphere of art in a gracious, intimate setting.
-The Taft Museum of Art Permanent Collection
Taft Museum of Art is small; but its extensive permanent collection includes paintings by Rembrandt, Goya, Gainsborough, Whistler, and Sargent, among others. The museum also displays Chinese porcelains, European decorative arts and “the greatest Gothic ivory sculpture in America.”
-Duncanson Artist in Residence
During Nicholas Longworth’s residency, he became patron to African-American painter, Robert S. Duncanson. The artist’s pre-Civil War murals remain on prominent display.
To preserve an African American presence in the Taft Museum, local business owners formed the Robert S. Duncanson Society in 1986. The group sponsors an annual Duncanson Artist in Residence program that acknowledges the achievement of a contemporary African American Artist. Past recipients include, Nikki Giovanni, Sharon Draper, Thom Shaw and the Dayton Contemporary Dance Second Company.
The Taft Museum offers a regular schedule of one hour gallery talks with walking tours of special and permanent exhibits.
-Taft in Ten
If you want to learn about art, but not too much, come to ‘Taft in Ten.’ Any Wednesday enjoy a quick lunch in the cafe then stay for ten minutes of conversation about selected art works. Talks begin at 12:45 and 1:15.
Thanks to a grant, Taft Museum of Art is free on Sundays. Participate in self-guided or docent-led tours with kid friendly descriptions, concerts, a kid’s menu in the cafe, educational programs and 3rd Sunday Fundays. Parking is free.
-Taft Museum of Art Hours – Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
-Admission- Adults $8, Seniors 60 and over $6, Students over 18 $6, Youth 18 and under free, Sundays – Free
For additional information about exhibits and events, see the Taft Museum of Art online calendar or call (513) 684-4524
Cincinnati Art Museum
Inspired by an 1876 Centennial celebration in Philadelphia, the Women’s Art Museum Association organized to bring an art museum to Cincinnati, Ohio. By 1881, they incorporated as the Cincinnati Museum Association. In 1886 the Cincinnati Art Museum opened the doors to its permanent home on a hilltop in Eden Park.
Ongoing renovations transformed the original box-shaped building into its current grand columned look reminiscent of Greek architecture.
You could spend all day enjoying the museum’s vast collections of 60,000 paintings, sculpture, artifacts and other memorable art objects; but before rushing to the upper floors, stop a moment to view the permanent exhibit of Egyptian, Grecian and Roman art just beyond the main entrance. Some of the sculpture, tools and artifacts date back thousands of years.
-The Painting Collection
The Cincinnati Art Museum painting collection includes works by great old masters Titian, van Dyck, Hals, Rubens, and Gainsborough. Among the 19th and 20th century artists you’ll find Picasso, Renoir, Modigliani and Chagall. The museum’s American collection boasts paintings by Copley, Wyeth and more and also includes works from 1970s and 1980s artists.
Each month the Cincinnati Art Museum offers exhibits and special programs that cater to families. Wee Wednesdays, Culture Kids, Art in the Making and Family First Saturdays events include scheduled stories, scavenger hunts, art demonstrations and more.
For adults, the museum offers classes, films, lectures and a Brunch, Art and Music Series. Many scheduled events are free. Some require reservations and a fee. Other events are exclusive to Art Museum Members.
Each year, the Cincinnati Art Museum provides a temporary home to some of the country’s most exciting traveling art exhibits. In the past, beautiful original works by renowned artists like Georgia O’Keefe, John Biggers and Andrew Wyeth have delighted museum visitors.
From Duncanson to Payne to Farney, Cincinnati has a long artistic tradition; and the Art Museum has a tradition of proudly showcasing local artist’s work in both permanent and temporary exhibits.
The Art Museum’s Great Hall has wide open spaces flanked by a pair of beautiful marble staircases. In the past the area has served as a work space for a senior lady’s quilting bee and a linoleum printmaking demonstration by the late artist, Thom Shaw. It has also provided the perfect backdrop for weddings and other elegant events.
–Handicap accessibility – elevators and free wheel chairs
–Assisted listening devices
–Sign language interpretation (request a week in advance)
–Strollers free of charge (limited)
–Foreign language tours in French, Spanish and German (arrange one month in advance)
–With a few exceptions, you may bring a pad and pencil to sketch your own record of permanently exhibited pre-1978 works. Photography of permanent works without lights or tripods is permitted with the same restrictions.
–Online collection data base
–Museum Shop- All Cincinnati Art Museum Gift Shop sales benefit educational programs, exhibitions and conservation.
–Mary R Schiff Library – Offers an extensive collection of books, periodicals, reproductions, videotapes, newspaper clippings and many more items of interest.
-Admission- Thanks to generous local support, admission is free with the exception of a few special programs, activities and parking.
–Museum memberships are available to help support programs.
-Hours – Tuesday through Sunday 11:00 to 5:00 – Closed Mondays and major Holidays
Contemporary Arts center:
Cincinnnati Art Museum:
Art Museum Calender of Events
Art Museum tickets for special events