Columbus Museum of Art – Franklin County

After taking a couple months off to hibernate and do a few other things, eventually the desire to get out and explore got too strong. I had been cooped up long enough, and it was time for a little museum therapy. While I’m not adding a new county this time, I can guarantee that there will be new territory covered soon.


I don’t remember much about my very first trip to the Columbus Museum of Art (CMA) back in 1988. I do remember it was a combined field trip between the Art and Science clubs in my junior high school. The Science Club (which I was a part of) went to COSI (Center of Science and Industry for my non-Ohio readers) in the morning, had lunch at the very first Wendy’s Restaurant (RIP), and then walked down the block to the art museum for the afternoon.

I can honestly say I only remembered a couple things about the Art Museum part of the trip. I remember a crazy homeless lady trying to get money from us and yelling at our group as we walked to the museum. I remember a large weird statue out front. I also remembered a painting of a guy on a ledge. I was just kind of struck by how different that painting looked compared to everything else in the room.

So now it’s 2017. 29 years after that first visit, and a lot has changed at CMA.  Currently (permanently?) the large statue out front is gone. You don’t enter through the majestic front doors anymore. The entrance is hidden in the back, though there is a nice sculpture park to look at and hang out in. I was just hoping the guy on the ledge painting was still there.


After paying for admission, the first galleries you come across are the two special exhibition galleries. I will say that pretty much regardless what the exhibitions are…pony up the extra money for these galleries. I am going to discuss what’s there now, but keep in mind that they rotate things fairly regularly. Your mileage may vary.

The current galleries are a retrospective of the art of Honoré Sharrer and a look at the history of Shakespeare productions in Prague. I will admit I’d never heard of Sharrer before. She was a surrealist with heavy political and social themes to much of her work. (I, like a moron, forgot to take any pictures though they were allowed). A few of her paintings, especially those with real political figures in them had a Monty Python animation feel to them, I wonder if she inspired them at all?

The next special exhibit was Shakespeare in Prague. Prague was one of the first cities outside of England to perform his work. It was interesting to note the difference in both play choice and stage design in the years surrounding WWII. There are everything from sketches, to posters, to mock-ups of the actual stages used at the time.

There are also quite a few costume pieces here from more modern tellings of Shakespeare’s plays. Some of them are fairly classic…


…some are obviously inspired by the war-torn history of the city…


…and whatever this is.


A really interesting exhibit, well worth the time.

The rest of the first floor exhibits are in the original CMoA building. There are two long hallways with ever rotating galleries.


Right now one of them has an exhibition of Plein Air paintings, which are basically paintings of nature that were painted outdoors. The other hallway is called the Big Idea Gallery, and it’s a collection of paintings surrounding one topic. Currently, the topic is “Dogs.” While the paintings were cool, I enjoyed the mix of architecture between the old and new parts of the museum even more.



There is an awesome space, mainly aimed at kids, called The Wonder Room. There are many opportunities for guests to get hands on and create their own art. I really liked this space.


Moving up to the second floor, we go back in the new expansion with a temporary gallery dedicated to the works of Ruben and Isabel Toledo. Isabel is a fashion designer, Ruben is an artist. While they do individual work, they work off each other in interesting ways. This exhibit has some of his large scale art and a collection of her dresses.



The rest of the wing was dedicated to Contemporary art and some of the new additions to the collection. There was a nice assortment of paintings (including an early Jackson Pollock…my favorite artist)…


…some interesting sculptures…


…and whatever this is.


Seriously, that’s just creepy.

While crossing a bridge to the the main galleries housed in the old part of the museum, I got a weird sense of nostalgia. The way the new building mixed with the old building reminded me so much of the solar front at the old COSI building.


In my opinion, the star of the original main part of the museum in the architecture. I love the color of the high vaulted ceiling…


The ceiling in the original entryway…


and the central courtyard is a great spot to take a quick break and relax.


There are normally 10 galleries of art on display, each covering either a specific topic or era of art. Unfortunately, only 5 of the galleries are currently open. Double unfortunately, the galleries that are closed are the ones that covered my favorite art periods (they were preparing for a short term interior design exhibition that will be in those gallery spaces in a few weeks).


That’s not to say there isn’t still great material on display, but I wish there had been some notice on their website about the gallery closures.


Triple unfortunately, I believe my favorite painting from that trip so many years ago, Cornice by George Tooker, lived in one of those galleries, so it is not on view currently.


At least there were prints of it available in the gift shop.

In addition to the main galleries, and the beautiful courtyard, there is art all over the hallways and around every corner. I especially liked the Spirit installation that’s kind of tucked in a corner. You have to go in a door, and around a wall before you are confronted with this very unusual scene.


It kind of scrambled my brain at first. It’s such a unique thing.

I had an excellent time at the Columbus Museum of Art. I was there quite a bit longer than I anticipated…and that’s with half the “main” collection off view!

If you want to visit the CMA – it’s normally $14 + $6 for the special exhibitions, plus $5 for parking. The museum is closed on Mondays. However, if you go on Sunday… general admission is free!! The special exhibit fee still applies (I don’t know about parking). It was worth the money to enjoy the museum without crowds around.



As a spoiler for an upcoming post, I’m hitting another major art museum in Ohio later this week. It will probably be a while before I get to that post, but I feel like art appreciation is going to be a recurring theme this year.

Click below to see a small photo gallery of a few more pictures I took while at the museum.

CMA Photo Gallery

And the obligatory Google Map…


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