About CMA

The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) is one of America’s leading comprehensive art museums. Established in 1913, CMA is the only major museum in the country to offer free daily admission to the public. CMA’s permanent collection is world renowned for its quality and breadth, spanning 6,000 years. The museum is a significant international forum for exhibitions, scholarships and art acquisitions.

For the benefit of all the people forever

The mission of The Cleveland Museum of Art is to fulfill its dual roles as one of the world’s most distinguished comprehensive art museums and as one of Northeastern Ohio’s principal civic and cultural institutions. The museum, established in 1913 “for the benefit of all the people forever,” seeks to bring the pleasure and meaning of art to the broadest possible audience in accordance with the highest aesthetic, intellectual and professional standards. Toward this end the museum augments, preserves, exhibits and fosters understanding of the outstanding collections of world art it holds in trust for the public and presents complementary exhibitions and programs.


The museum is divided into 11 different curatorial divisions that manage the permanent collection, plan exhibitions and acquire new additions to the collection. The departments oversee African art, ancient art, art of ancient Americas, Asian art, decorative art and design, contemporary art, Islamic art, Medieval art, European and American painting and sculpture, photography, prints and drawings, and textiles.

The CMA has its own conservation department, formed in 1958, which performs technical examinations of works of art before acquisitions, both for dating purposes and authenticity, as well as for determining condition of the pieces. The conservation department also regularly maintains care of the objects in the permanent collection.

The Department of Education places the highest priority on making the collections accessible to the public and offers a variety of programs for enrichment, including family workshops, art camps, lectures and gallery talks. Throughout the year, the department offers family oriented festivals such as Parade the Circle, Circle of Masks Festival, the Chalk Festival and the Winter Lights Lantern Festival. The department also maintains a teacher resource center and a state-of-the-art distance learning program that allows the museum to connect with thousands of students around the globe.

The Performing Arts, Music and Film Departments is one of the finest, most diverse, and oldest programs of its type at any museum in the U.S.  From Multi-Grammy Award-winning recording artists to internationally acclaimed dance ensembles to unique film series, the museum’s acclaimed performance series offer programs of unequalled breadth and depth to packed houses.  


The Cleveland Museum of Art was established through the generosity of four native Cleveland men: Hinman B. Hurlbut, Horace Kelley, Jeptha H. Wade and John Huntington were vital donors who all designated part of their fortunes toward establishing an art museum in the later years of the nineteenth century. In the early 1880s Western Reserve University and the newly founded Case School of Applied Science were established in a developing neighborhood adjoining the park land donated to the City of Cleveland by Jeptha H. Wade. The park was donated to the city by Wade in 1882 as a Christmas present, with the exception of an oval-shaped area which was reserved and later passed down to his grandson J.H. Wade II.  The donated land became the location of the new museum, centered among many important cultural institutions.  The Cleveland Museum of Art opened its doors to the public on June 6, 1916.

The museum is located in the Fine Arts Garden, a square mile landscaped park that was dedicated in July 1928 as a landscape project, the result of the cooperation of the Garden Club of Cleveland, the City of Cleveland and CMA.  The Boston firm of the Olmsted Brothers (the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, Central Park landscape architect) designed the plan, which included planting trees and shrubs, building stairways, walkways and terraces, transforming the lake into a formal lagoon and installing fountains and sculpture.

Building for the Future         

Constructed in 1913, the original structure of The Cleveland Museum of Art was a classical-style Beaux Arts building with 61,107 square feet designed by Hubbell and Benes and the architectural consultant Edmund B. Wheelwright. A major addition in 1958, designed by J. Byers Hays and Paul C. Roth, doubled the gallery space.  In 1970 Marcel Breuer and Hamilton Smith added two large galleries for special exhibitions, the 750-seat Gartner Auditorium, two 150-seat lecture and recital halls, classrooms, audio-visual rooms and staff offices.  

In 2005, CMA began The Campaign for the Cleveland Museum of Art.  This expansive building and renovation project will accomplish two important goals.  First, it will reaffirm the vision of the founders of this institution, who believed that a great city like Cleveland should be endowed with the finest of cultural assets, including an art museum that would be accessible to the public free of charge and serve as a resource to educate and inspire the community.  Secondly, it will transform a physical plant that is outdated and inadequate and prepare the museum to meet future needs.  Upon completion, the project will add 36,000 square feet of additional gallery space and nearly 200,000 square feet to the museum overall.

The Ingalls Library: A leader in art research

Cleveland Museum of Art's Ingalls Library, the thrid largest art research library in the United States, is a non-circulating art reference library comprised of almost 431,000 cataloged volumes.  The library’s collection includes monographs, current periodicals and long runs of ceased periodicals as well as auction and dealers' catalogues, microforms, electronic publications, CD-ROMs, clipping files and other materials. The library collects material on the visual arts including art criticism, history, patronage, symbolism, iconography, and collectors. Its mission is to support research, documentation and interpretation on objects in the museum's collections and on those being considered for acquisition and publication as well as for exhibitions and other activities.

Visit the Ingalls Library blog here.

Hours and Admission:

The museum is open to the public Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.  The museum is closed on Mondays and certain holidays such as New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  General admission is always free, although special exhibitions and events require tickets and/or fees.  Parking is available in the CMA garage and the facility is handicapped accessible.

The Cleveland Museum of Art receives operating support from the Ohio Arts Council through state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. The Cleveland Museum of Art is generously funded by Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. For more information on the museum, its holdings, programs, and events, call 1-888-CMA-0033 or visit Clevelandart.org.

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