Outdoor Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art

This area south of the Museum is known as the Fine Arts Garden, originally established when the Garden Club of Cleveland decided to beautify the landscape after the museum’s original construction was completed. Nearly a century later, the museum’s recent expansion provided an opportunity to establish the Sculpture Garden on the north lawn. This summer, some of the area south of the museum is under construction for the new Greenway Project connecting the Case Western campus to its new performing arts center across Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd by way of the museum’s south lawn. 

Despite the construction on the south side, you can still see many works of art on view in the Fine Arts Garden and the Sculpture Garden. Here are a few to check out when you visit this summer.  

Isamu Noguchi, Rock Carvings: Passage of the Seasons, 1981

Right outside the North doors are three monumental rock sculptures by the artist Isamu Noguchi. Two are located on the hill in the center of the circular drive, and the third stands across the street near the sidewalk leading the doors. Check out Noguchi’s contrasting surfaces—some parts of the rock are smooth, cut out by the sculptor; others are left rough—and the way the three different carvings interact with each other and the landscape in which they’re situated. 

Tony Smith, Source, 1967

To the east of the entrance is Source, a black, monumental steel sculpture by Tony Smith. In its current location (it was originally installed south of the museum and moved in 2010) it provides a visual counterpoint to the stripes of the Viñoly expansion behind it. Smith’s inspiration for Source was drawn from the painting The Source of the Loue, 1864, by Gustave Courbet, which shows a rocky grotto with flowing water. 

Anish Kapoor, C-Curve, 2007 

Just north of Source is a sculpture on long-term loan to the museum, Anish Kapoor’s C-Curve. If the smooth, mirror-like surface reminds you of Cloud Gate (affectionately known as “the Bean”) in Chicago, it should: Kapoor created that work as well. Make sure to walk around both sides of C-Curve to explore the different optical effects created by the shape of the sculpture. The convex side facing the museum shows a panoramic view with a fisheye effect; the concave side flips the world upside down. 

Jim Hodges, Untitled (bridge of harmony), 2012-2014

Near the intersection of East Boulevard and Wade Oval Drive are three boulders. Viewed from far away, you could be forgiven for thinking they’re just big rocks! But if you come closer, you’ll notice that the artist, Jim Hodges, covered part of the surface of these boulders in a shiny metallic layer of stainless steel. This steel has been colored with dichroic pigment, which will show subtle changes in colors if you look at it from different directions.


Edith Barretto Stevens Parsons, Turtle Baby, c. 1910-1916

Around the south side of the museum, a couple of sculptures are tucked away in the terraces outside of the museum’s east and west wings. On the east side, one of these is Turtle Baby, a charming bronze by Edith Parsons. Parsons, who was active in the first half of the 20th century, was well-known for her garden sculptures of children holding frogs, ducks, and yes, turtles. Turtle Baby has been in the museum’s collection since 1923, and it’s still a favorite of many visitors. 

Malvina Hoffman, Bacchanale, 1917

Also on the east terrace is Bacchanale by Malvina Hoffman. Hoffman created this work after watching the legendary ballerina Anna Pavlova dance with her partner Mikhail Mordkin in the "Autumn Bacchanale" section of The Seasons, a ballet by composer Aleksandr Glazunov. This sculpture proved challenging for Hoffman: she wrote to her sister when she was working on the first model, telling her that she had set herself a difficult problem trying to get the two figures to fit together! 

Malvina Hoffman, Boy and Panther Cub, 1915

Another work by Malvina Hoffman graces the opposite terrace on the west side of the museum’s south entrance: Boy with Panther Cub. This particular cast of the work was commissioned by the Cleveland industrialist John L. Severance and gifted to the museum after his death. 


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