What do families who live in the Midwest and on the east coast do when they want to meet but don’t want to sacrifice ten hours in the car to visit one another? You try to meet in the middle. For us, that meant visiting Cleveland, Ohio.
Cleveland? What can you do in Cleveland?
Prior to our trip, we hadn’t spent much time researching about Cleveland, but a friend who now calls Cleveland home recommended a long list of things to do and places to eat.
What was on the top of her list? The Cleveland Museum of Art.
Architecture of the Museum
Situated among several other fantastic cultural centers, such as the Cleveland Art Institute and Severance Hall (where the Cleveland Orchestra play), you can feel culture emanating in Cleveland. It also helps to have Case Western Reserve University and these cultural buildings located within walking distance. There’s something to be said about education building and encouraging one another in developing, enriching, and bridging creativity and the arts together.
The crisp horizontal lines along the exterior of The Cleveland Museum of Art give it a clean, modern look. Once we entered the museum to the massive atrium space, I was floored. This was the Cleveland Museum of Art? I had yet to see a piece of art work, and I was already taken back by the sheer beauty of the architecture and interior space of the museum. It reminded me of one of the Smithsonian buildings in Washington, D.C.
You can get a sense of scale of the atrium, when you see how small the other visitors look in the photograph above. They divide the space with well placed vegetation to give the cafe an intimate feel from the expansive atrium space.
The Georgian marble is stunning, giving it a timeless look and richness to the space.
Entrance into the Exhibits
With over 6,000 years of artifacts and pieces of art housed at the museum, there is sure to be something for everyone to enjoy. Here we go…get ready to be blown away by the Cleveland Museum of Art.
(Photo Above: Roman copy after the original made by Praxiteles about 400 BC to 330 BC). The original is located at National Museums Liverpool.)
If you’re into things from where knights, princesses, and kings lived, you’ll find an impressive collection of medieval armor, weaponry, and history.
(Photo Above: Field Armor for Man and Horse with the Arms of Vols-Colonna Family, about 1575.)
(Photo Above: Two-handed Sword of the State Guard of Duke Julius of Brunswick and Luneburg, from the Armory of Wolfenbuttel, 1574.)
(Photo Above: Child-size armor.)
Korean and Japanese Pottery and Art
The museum gives a broad overview of the art of Korea: “Korean art is distinctive for merging many aspects of culture from its East Asian neighbors – Siberian shamanism, , Buddhism, and Confucianism – with native Korean traditions. The art and culture of Korea reflect these influences, from the adoption of Daoist ideas of the afterlife to the longtime dominance of Buddhist subjects and styles, and to the rise of a simple and humble aesthetic through Confucian political philosophy from the 15th to the 19th centuries.”
I’ve looked through Japanese and Korean pottery before as a teenager, and like a typical teenager, I viewed Korean art and culture with a careless attitude. I couldn’t see the beauty and understand the importance of Korean culture until we shared this experience with our boys. I valued the importance of sharing familial and ancestral history with them to pass along our cultural heritage to the next generation.
(Photo Above: Scroll box with Dragon and Phoenix Design, 1700s – 1900s. Lacquered wow inlaid with mother-of-pearl and twisted brass and copper wire. Joseon Dynasty period, Korea (1392 -1910).)
(Photo Above: Storage Jar, 1700s. Joseon Dynasty period, Korea. Nicknamed “moon jar” because of its shape and color.)
(Photo Above: Bamboo, 1500s – 1600s by Yi Chong. Hanging scroll, ink on silk. Joseon Dynasty, Korea (1392-1910).)
According to the description at the museum, epitaphs, written in Han Chinese script, chronicled birthdays, origins, achievements of a deceased person. The epitaphs below were written for Yi GIha, who was a military official during the Joseon Dynasty.
(Photo Above: Plaque: Epitaphs, 1718. Porcelain with blue underglaze. Joseon Dynasty period, Korea (1392-1910).
(Photo Above: Vessel, 400s – 300s BC. Earthenware. Japan, Yayoi period)
(Photo Above: Yakushi-Nyorai Buddha, 1100s. Made of Gilded wood. Late Heian period, Japan (about 900-1185).)
Modern and Contemporary Art
While I didn’t pay much attention to the names of modern artists, the large art pieces spoke for themselves. Linus particularly liked the “big monkey” portrait.
(Photo Above: On the Island, 2011 by Walton Ford. Watercolor, gouache, ink, pencil on paper mounted on aluminum panel.)
Although this isn’t a modern piece, the glasses on the portrait of Nathaniel Olds reminds me of a Back to the Future “Doc” look, wouldn’t you say?
(Photo Above: Portrait of Nathaniel Olds, 1837. Oil on canvas. by Jeptha Homer Wade.)
Art from India
While we didn’t get a chance to visit Indian art and sculptures, here was one waiting by the entrance to the Indian culture exhibit.
(Photo Above: Goddess, 900s-1000s. Marble. Northwest India.)
Crete and Minoan Art
Piano Man pointed out this piece of art, along with several other pieces from Minoan period. Having visited Crete, Piano Man is able to appreciate other art work from the period, connecting the dots from history to art.
(Photo Above: Minoan Girl, about 1600-1500 BC, Bonrze. Minoan, Crete.)
In April 2013, we visited Egypt. It was a once in a lifetime and intense weekend of seeing ancient artifacts and pyramid tombs.
(Photo Above, Front Right: Statues of Amenemhat III, about 1859-01814 BC. Middle Kingdom Dynasty 12, reign of Amenemhat III.)
(Photo Above: Coffin of Bakenmut, about 976-889 BC. Made of Painted sycamore fig. Thebes, Third Intermediate Period, late Dynasty 21 to early Dynasty 22.)
(Photos Above: Cartonnage Mummy Case, about 50 BC – 50 AD. Painted and gilded with glass inlays. Late Ptolemaic Dynasty to early Roman Empire.)
Museum Gift Shop
If you feel like taking a memento home, stop by the museum shop for yourself or for a loved one.
Kids’ Zone at Studio Play
Thank goodness, we asked someone for directions to Studio Play. If you get nervous that your child might accidentally tip over an ancient sculpture, you’ll be quite pleased to enjoy this space filled with a ton of kid friendly activities.
The massive Ikea-like bookshelf allows for children to read books and play with toys, letting the active mind continue learning and accumulating knowledge from a whole range of art work and history books.
They can build a sculpture out of weighted clanking pieces on a mobile.
Children can use felt pieces to become their own Van Gogh or favorite Impressionist artist.
If your kid is more adept to learning through electronic media, then use this gigantic screen to stimulate comparative art analysis, which is suited for the young art enthusiast.
What was the best part about the Cleveland Museum of Art? I’d have to say its mission statement, “for the benefit of all the people forever.” If I didn’t mention this before, let me say it now – the museum is free…everyday. Not just the second Thursday of the month or to certain credit card holders – everyone. The museum is open late until 9 pm on Wednesdays and Fridays, which makes it accessible to the public, especially for those who have odd or late working hours. I love that!
The museum website gives tips for those with young children on how to walk through the exhibits, and if your child(ren) are done “seeing” art, they can really play at Studio Play. I had to take this photo of an inconspicuous sign located in the far corner at Studio Play:
If this doesn’t say that the Cleveland Museum of Art meets its mission statement, reaching out to its youngest visitors, then I don’t know what else does.
Interactive and Educational
This museum is up-to-date with the latest technology. You can peruse and “like” your favorite piece of art.
Click on any one of the millions of pieces you see, and you can see how many others have already liked that piece as well.
If you’ve got an iPad, you can place it on the iPad slot/holder, and read more information about a piece of work. If you don’t have one, you can also rent one from the museum.
The museum emphasizes a strong educational component to its mission statement, and you can find books to read at the Ingalls Library.
On a quiet Wednesday night, students participated in an art class, which was impressive to watch them at work.
And just when you thought you’ve seen every piece of artwork, then there’s more to see.
We were lucky to visit a very empty museum on a Wednesday night. I assumed that the place would be packed with visitors like us until 9 pm, but most of the locals spent the evening at Wade Oval Wednesday, a free family fun night of activities and concession stand food, across from the museum.
If you’re ever in Cleveland, stop by the Cleveland Museum of Art. It is worth a visit. We were so glad we did.