Touching, Creating, Enjoying- The Columbus Museum of Art

Never thought I’d be a fan of art museums, yet they seem to regularly draw me in and fascinate. When DaringDaughter left to study at OSU, she discovered the Columbus Museum of Art to be just as cool as our own art museum in Cleveland, though in very different ways. When she learned of a Visitor Engagement internship at the museum, she jumped at the opportunity- and, of course, PrettyWife and I had to see what her excitement was all about. A snowy Saturday afternoon visit to OSU gave us a perfect day to drive the short trek from campus to take in the museum.

The Columbus museum of Art was first formed in 1878 as the Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, and was the first to register its charter in the state of Ohio. Beginning life in the Sessions Mansion in downtown Columbus, Ohio, the museum has undergone reconstruction and several expansions over the years. Permanent displays include notable artists from the late-nineteenth to early twentieth century, as well as exhibits by local and national artists in the Open Gallery and Forum through the year. Pretty standard fare for an art museum, right? What sets the Columbus Museum of Art apart from its contemporaries, however, is the museums desire to make enjoying art a hands-on, multi-sensory experience.

Wonder Room Columbus Museum of Art
DaringDaughter and PrettyWife creating tinfoil bugs to add to “web” display

In a typical museum, you wander about enjoying the works on display, maybe reading the brief explanations of the works, then move along to another collection. At the Columbus museum of Art, you can certainly explore the museum in that usual fashion, but in the museum’s JPMorgan Chase Center for Creativity (covering much of the first floor) the traditional experience is left behind. Here you’ll find the Wonder Room, the Creativity Lounge, and the Big Idea Gallery. Though these may seem like children’s areas at first glance, they’re actually intended to be enjoyed by guests of all ages. Each area encourages you to learn more about the fundamentals of the artwork, as well as an opportunity to create and display (though briefly, I’m sure) one’s own artistic vision using a variety of unusual materials. Wires and wheels, tin foil and tape, ink and note squares, and even ubiquitous Lego bricks abound to free one’s inner artist. Let go, take a chance, and see where your talent takes you. One of my favorite visitor participation points was a wall where folks added their drawings to create a continuing visual story. Some very creative people made fabulous use of one another’s drawings, and locations on the wall, to create a compelling graphic narrative!

Columbus Museum of Art 2
sometimes there’s nothing to add…

A visit to the Columbus Museum of Art can be the traditional tour of art appreciation, or visitors can have the added enjoyment of fully experiencing the artistic process. While a bit disappointed to discover my (very) limited talent, I can still honestly say my work was “in a museum”- fun stuff! As we were leaving, we learned of the Schokko Art Café, and heard it’s quite a treat to snack overlooking the new sculpture garden. Maybe our next visit will be a warm spring day, and we’ll plan on lunch in the museum gardens. If you’re looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon, add the Columbus Museum of Art to the list of destinations in Ohio’s capitol city!

Keep Riding Local, Dreaming Global, and we’ll see you on the road- Enjoy!


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