Cincinnati Art Museum – A Visitor’s Guide


The Women’s Art Museum Association, or WAMA, formed with the intention of benefiting ordinary Americans in the Cincinnati, Ohio area, founded the Cincinnati Art Museum in 1877. The museum has grown since then to what it is today — the largest art museum in the state of Ohio. The WAMA realized that historically, art had always been created specifically for society’s privileged members, and that art museums typically are funded by the wealthy, educated upper class. The average person of the lower and middle classes did not have the same access to or understanding of fine art. The group was determined to bring art and education about the arts to the masses. In order to make this goal more accessible to the people, the Cincinnati Art Museum always opened its doors for free on Saturdays. In May of 2003, funding from The Lois and Richard Rosenthal Foundation made it possible to eliminate the general admission fee to the museum for all time. The goal, therefore, of the WAMA, has been realized.

The Cincinnati Art Museum is housed in a building built in the Romanesque style, and houses over 60,000 pieces of art and artifacts. The periods represented in the museum’s collection covers the past 6000 years. The museums collections are divided into the following areas: American Decorative Arts; Costumes & Textiles; Art of Africa; Art of the Americas; Prints, Drawings and Watercolors; American Painting and Sculpture; European Painting and Sculpture; Classical and Near Eastern Art; Far Eastern Art; and Photography.

Photography, the newest of the fine arts, has representations from the latter half of the 19th century to some experimental, avant-garde work of the late 20th century.

With many pieces of art from the Medieval period and the Renaissance, the European Painting and Sculpture will give a museum visitor a nice overview of the various historical periods in the development of painting and sculpture in Europe. Italian Renaissance is represented by artists such as Mantegna, English landscapes by John Constable, portraits by Dutch painter Frans Hal, work from the Impressionist period, German Expressionism, and an early Picasso, to mention just a few.

The American Painting and Sculpture department doesn’t cover such a great span of years, but has many works from American artists, particularly realists. Among the American realists are Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth, Grant Wood, Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent and Mary Cassatt (an Impressionist painter who was born in America). Some contemporary American art is also in the Cincinnati Museum of Art’s collection.

The Classical and Near Eastern Art includes, among many others, an alabaster figure from circa 2600 BC, a 4th century Greek krater, and a 3rd century marble portrait head, along with some Egyptian pieces.

The Cincinnati Museum of Art presents regular special exhibitions which are also open to the public. The museum’s website lists exhibitions and has directions.

Source by Mark Traston

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