At 9:00am on Wednesday June 7, 1916, the "building and its contents were thrown open to the general public" (Inaugural catalog). The first visitors to the museum were greeted with an exhibition of objects loaned from private collections, museums and dealers from all over the country which filled every gallery.
Four Clevelanders are considered the founders of the Cleveland Museum of Art: John Huntington, Horace Kelley, Hinman Hurlbut and Jeptha Wade II. Over the course of nine years Huntington, Kelley and Hurlbut each separately left bequests for the establishment of an art gallery. Fortunately all three estates had a common trustee, Henry Clay Ranney, who was able to reconcile the three bequests to create a single art museum which was eventually incorporated as The Cleveland Museum of Art on June 25, 1913. Wade donated the land on which the museum was built.
Cleveland architects Benjamin Hubbell and W. Dominick Benes were engaged to design and construct the new museum. After a study of museum buildings nationally and worldwide, Hubbell and Benes designed a Beaux Arts style building with two wings flanking a central rotunda. Construction began in 1913 and was completed for the June 1916 opening. The gallery level housed the main entrance on the south side of the building facing Wade Park. Fifteen galleries plus the Armor Court and Interior Garden Court surrounded the Rotunda.