Love Art? Explore The Columbus Museum of Art
The Columbus area is home to many noteworthy museums that I recommend visiting whether you’re just visiting or were born and raised in Central Ohio.
COSI is where you want to be for anything science related, but if you want to see over 10,000 works of art dating from the 19th century until today, you will want to check out the CMA (Columbus Museum of Art), conveniently located in downtown Columbus!
Whether you are a dedicated fan of famous artists such as Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Georgia O’Keeffe, Norman Rockwell, Grant Wood, and Mary Cassatt or are just dipping your toe in the beautiful world of art, the museum offers hours of exciting and instructional opportunities for the whole family.
The Columbus Museum of Art is also home to the most extensive public collection of works by the American artist Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson, who explores African American history, culture, and identity themes.
The museum also has a solid commitment to community engagement and education, offering various educational programs and resources for visitors of all ages, including school tours, teacher workshops, and family programs.
In this guide, I am sharing my best tips for a visit to the CMA you’ll remember.
Permanent CMA Exhibits
You might be tempted to focus on the temporary exhibits since they won’t be here long. Still, I highly recommend taking the time to check out the permanent ones too.
The Columbus Museum of Art has curated a collection of masterpieces from American and European artists since it opened in 1878 and now features outstanding pieces that you won’t want to miss.
There, you’ll be able to see anything from a large collection of Columbus-born artists, including Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson, Elijah Pierce, and George Bellows, to works by Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne, Norman Rockwell, and so much more. Here are some of the highlights from the Permanent CMA exhibits:
Current Temporary CMA Exhibits
Greater Columbus: The 2023 Greater Columbus Arts Council Visual Arts Awards Exhibition (on view until August 6, 2023)
The Greater Columbus exhibit features work by artists in central Ohio who have been recognized for their outstanding talent. It is a fantastic way to connect with our local community of artists. This year, this continuing partnership between the Columbus Museum of Art (CMA) and the Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) celebrates artists including Hannah Parrett, Benedict Scheuer, Matelli Graves, Roger Beebe, George Rush, and Joshua Penrose.
Hannah Parrett’s section features her mixed media works that explore the relationship between humans and the environment. Benedict Scheuer’s section includes his abstract paintings that explore the interplay of color, line, and form. Matelli Graves’ section features her intricate, hand-drawn works on paper that reflect on themes of identity and history. Roger Beebe’s section includes his experimental films that explore the intersection of media and society. George Rush’s section features his sculptures made from found objects that reflect on consumerism and waste. And Joshua Penrose’s section includes his paintings that explore the interplay between color, texture, and form.
The exhibition is on view at the Columbus Museum of Art until August 6, 2023.
Is This Your Trigger Finger (on view until August 6, 2023)
“Was It Your Trigger Finger?” is an exhibit by the Columbus-based artist Bobby T. Luck, currently on view at the Columbus Museum of Art until August 6, 2023.
This thought-provoking exhibit features a collection of films, collages, and sculptures that explore themes of “globalization and the self by breaking down diplomatic and emotional borders through film, collage, and sculpture” and was spurred in part by the collective trauma of 2020 and Luck’s experience in the military.
The exhibit’s title refers to the idea that violence often has a ripple effect that can impact individuals and communities for years. “Was It Your Trigger Finger?” offers a powerful exploration of how violence and trauma can impact individuals and communities while showcasing the talent and creativity of a local artist. A memorable experience!
Gina Osterloh: Mirror Shadow Shape (October 8, 2023)
You might know Filipino American artist Gina Osterloh by her photography and video installations that explore the relationship between the body, space, and perception. With minimalist compositions and abstract forms that play with light, shadow, and reflections, she creates immersive installations that invite viewers to interact with the space and question their own perception of reality.
In Gina Osterloh: Mirror Shadow Shape, the artist explores ideas of otherness and belonging with the help of photographs captured by a film camera with a 16 mm video created between 2005 and 2020.
Basic Matters: Substance in Contemporary Art (May 21, 2023)
“Basic Matters: Substance in Contemporary Art” is a unique exhibit that explores the role of materials and substances in contemporary art, a subject that is rarely addressed.
It features works by various artists who use unconventional materials such as concrete, textiles, and even food to create innovative and thought-provoking works that challenge traditional notions of art and beauty.
Their impact on the way we perceive and interpret art is undisputed by also generally just mentioned in passing. This exhibition is the perfect place to see how artists use them to push the boundaries of traditional art-making techniques.
Through “Basic Matters: Substance in Contemporary Art,” you will have an opportunity to experience a diverse range of works through which artists like Leilah Babirye, Dorothy Gill Barnes, Aisha Tandiwe Bell, Jene Highstein, Jamaal Peterman, Alison Saar, Omar Shaheed, Akio Takamori, Jordan Tate, and Tyrrell Winston create meaning and engage with the world around them. It is definitely worth checking out!
The Columbus Front Step Project: How We Found Connection during the COVID-10 Crisis (on view until November 8, 2023)
The “Columbus Front Step Project” documents the experiences of Columbus residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. It started out in 2020 when photographer Erin Brown began photographing families and individuals on their front steps as a way to show how they were coping with the pandemic.
A selection of these photographs is featured alongside personal stories and reflections from a diverse range of individuals and families, highlighting the unique challenges they faced during the pandemic and the ways in which they found connection and community despite social distancing restrictions.
The “Columbus Front Step Project” is an emotional and important record of the experiences of Columbus residents during this unprecedented time in history. It certainly provides a powerful reminder of the resilience and strength of our community in the face of adversity and underlines the importance of finding connection and support during challenging times.
2021 Columbus Comics Residency: LAAB Magazine (on view until May 21, 2023)
LAAB, a newspaper organized by artist Ronald Wimberly, the 2016 Columbus Comics resident artist, was created as a thought-provoking way to encourage the community to criticize art and pop culture.
To celebrate the 10th year of the Columbus Comics Residency, the Columbus Museum of Art organized an exhibit of LAAB’s published work. There, you will find artwork, hands-on activities, and more.
Some of the most significant works of art in the Columbus Museum of Art are displayed in the Queer/Modern exhibition. It showcases gay and lesbian artists from the early 20th century that are unique, untraditional, and ground-breaking.
Wendy Red Star: A Scratch on the Earth (on view until September 3, 2023)
Featuring more than 40 works and highlighting 15 years of studio practice, the Wendy Red Star: A Scratch on the Earth exhibit is an incredible collection of this Native American artist and member of the Apsáalooke (Crow) tribe.
The exhibition explores Crow history, the indigenous roots of feminism and contemporary life on the Crow Indian reservation in Montana, the history, struggles, and resilience of indigenous people, and so much more.
Lesley Vance: always circled whirling
This is Lesley Vance’s first solo exhibit in a public institution and is well worth the additional admission fee.
A contemporary American painter known for her abstract compositions that explore the properties of color, light, and space, her work is all about fluid abstractions, swirling, and spatial conundrums. Its technical precision, subtle textures, and intricate layering set her apart, and is notable for its ambiguity and open-endedness.
Lesley Vance often spends months working on a single piece, painstakingly building up layers of paint and experimenting with different colors and brushstrokes. While her paintings are abstract, they often suggest organic forms like flowers, leaves, or water, but this ambiguity invites viewers to project their own interpretations, creating a sense of intimacy and connection.
CATS is a must-see exhibit featuring these iconic and beloved animals through artists’ depictions of both domesticated cats and their wild relatives. There, you will see cats immortalized through artwork that includes stories, images, photos, and more.
Columbus Museum of Art Hours
|10 AM–5 PM
|10 AM–5 PM
|10 AM–9 PM
|10 AM–5 PM
|10 AM–5 PM
|Closed July 4, Thanksgiving Day, December 24, 25, 31, and all Mondays. Closing at 3:00 PM May 19, July 1, September 21, and Thanksgiving Eve. Open on Easter and New Year’s Day.
Columbus Museum of Art Tickets and Membership
CMA Membership Options
A CMA membership will pay for itself after a few visits. But if you don’t plan on coming more than a few times a year, rates are as follows:
Student 18+: $9.00
Student 4-17: $9.00
Child 0-3: $0.00
Adult w/ Special Exhibition: $26.00
Senior w/ Special Exhibition: $17.00
Student 18+ w/ Special Exhibition: $17.00
Student 4-17 w/ Special Exhibition: $17.00
Columbus Museum of Art App
You can download the app for the Columbus Museum of Art for free. It will give you access to current and upcoming exhibitions, events, educational programs, and more.
Columbus Museum of Art Contact Information
Address: 480 East Broad Street, Columbus, OH 43215
Phone number: (614) 221-6801
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