Community Engagement

Founded by and for the citizens of Cleveland, and drawing its support largely from the city and region that it serves, the Cleveland Museum of Art recognizes that civic engagement is central to its mission and imperative to its future. This civic responsibility requires making the museum accessible in every sense of the term—physically, socially, and intellectually—and realizing its full potential as a place that is welcoming to all. The museum offers public forums such as Parade the Circle, the Chalk Festival, and the Winter Lights Lantern Festival/Holiday CircleFest to create compelling ways to engage the public.

Arts Festivals

The Cleveland Museum of Art proudly presents an annual event calendar filled with seasonal community arts programs. Each event provides a unique opportunity to experience the museum in a new way. These annual events include:

  • Parade the Circle
    For over 20 years, the museum has organized this free, signature summertime event. Each year 70,000 people come together to celebrate in a spirit of community and creative expression in a spectacular display of bright costumes, giant puppets, stilt-dancers, handmade masks, and colorful floats. Drawing on artistic expressions from diverse cultures, local and international artists, museum staff, hundreds of volunteers, and 2,500 parade participants create a fantasy world through dance, music, and costume. During the last two decades this premiere arts event has won numerous awards, including the Ohio Governor's Award for the Arts.
  • Winter Lights Lantern Festival/Holiday CircleFest
    Inspired by centuries-old, cross-cultural traditions of ceremonial lighting displays, the Winter Lights Lantern Festival features lantern displays inside the museum and the Environment of Lights installation on Wade Oval. Holiday CircleFest is a free annual celebration presented by University Circle, Inc. The museum offers an array of activities and entertainment connected to this event, including workshops for making lanterns.
  • Chalk Festival
    Children, adolescents, and adults enjoy this annual event where community members join professional artists to transform the concrete walkways surrounding the museum into a colorful canvas. Begun in 1990, the museum’s Chalk Festival is a modern expression of a Renaissance tradition from 16th-century Italy, in which beggars copied paintings using chalk on the plazas outside cathedrals. The museum provides preparatory workshops that offer hands-on learning experiences leading up to the actual festival.

Community Programs
The Cleveland Museum of Art cultivates inventive extra-curricular and off-site community outreach programs that extend to thousands of students and residents in the city’s urban neighborhoods. For example, the museum’s Art Crew creates a troupe of characters inspired by art in the museum’s collections to visit community events. In a separate program, Café Bellas Artes gathers members of the Latino community for monthly discussions and cultural sharing art, music, poetry, and literature in an engaging evening of world-class art, culture, and stimulating conversation. The Cleveland Foundation’s Community of Relationships partnership with the museum includes a mural project in which Cleveland artists connect with community members to create large-scale murals for select neighborhood locations over a two-year period.

Education and Interpretation
The Cleveland Museum of Art strives to make art relatable to all its patrons, offering a diverse array of art education opportunities for visitors of all ages and backgrounds. Each year, thousands of schoolchildren tour the museum’s collections with our outstanding docents and educators. Through such ventures, the museum not only ensures that students receive invaluable art education, but, just as importantly, instills in those students a sense of civic pride and ownership in the institution from an early age. Art education efforts are instrumental in building and reinforcing relationships between the museum and new generations of art lovers and supporters.

Distance Learning
A pioneer in videoconferencing lessons and technologies, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Distance Learning Program uses a broad array of images from the museum’s collection to enrich core subjects, while remaining in compliance with state education standards. Through live videoconferencing offered in six languages, students from all over the country and beyond can view art and artifacts from around the world. This program has become a model for other institutions and has been recognized with the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration Pinnacle Award 2007–2011, and the Teachers’ Choice Award 2006–2011.

Art to Go
Art to Go allows museum staff and trained volunteers to bring genuine art objects from the museum’s education collection off-site for participants to see and touch. Offering a unique hands-on experience, Art to Go presentations encourage observation, creative thinking, decision making, problem solving, and teamwork. Lessons in schools connect art objects and curricula, offering an ideal complement to a variety of disciplines. In libraries, community centers, adult facilities, and other venues, Art to Go offers opportunities for new discoveries, entertainment, and community building. Philanthropy allows this program to continue offering scholarships and free presentations to schools in the Cleveland Municipal School District.

Teacher Resource Center
The Cleveland Museum of Art offers schoolteachers unique access to materials, technology, and services to assist in making connections between classroom curriculum and the visual arts. The Connie Towson Ford Teacher Resource Center (TRC) serves educators working with various grade levels, disciplines, and audiences. TRC programs offer educators the opportunity to apply their own creative expression, enjoy introductory sessions for select exhibitions, and find ways to connect the museum’s collections with engaging classroom experiences.

Family Programs
Throughout the year the Cleveland Museum of Art offers free family programs that provide opportunities for fun, interactive, educational, and intergenerational social experiences. These programs typically connect to the museum’s special exhibitions or events. Courses in a wide range of media are offered on weekdays and weekends throughout the day and evening so there’s a class to fit every schedule, budget, and interest. A gift can help sustain these activities and programs that attract thousands of people to the museum for family-oriented entertainment.

Curriculum Programs for Schools
The Cleveland Museum of Art’s curriculum programs offer studio classes for grades 1–12 that are 90 minutes in length, with preschool and kindergarten studios lasting 60 minutes. Classes spend 20 to 30 minutes with an art educator in the galleries, then create a related art project from a variety of media in the remaining time. All programs are aligned with the Ohio Department of Education academic content standards for the visual arts.

Diverse and Inclusive Educational Programs
Accessible programs ensure that every individual has the opportunity to experience the museum’s offerings according to his or her interest and availability. Interpretive tours, gallery talks, art history lecture courses, and studio art classes help people connect to the visual arts and the museum. Whether exploring the museum’s collections with enthusiastic art educators, learning various hands-on art practices, or even examining art history with education and library staff, the museum prides itself on reaching all audiences by offering accessible and diverse programs.

Innovative Educational Initiatives
Museum Ambassadors is an innovative two-year program that brings together select students from local Cleveland area schools in grades 11 and 12 to participate in monthly sessions that increase visual literacy, knowledge of the arts, and familiarity with professions in the arts. Ambassadors learn about the museum’s collections, programs, and career opportunities.

Educational Lecture Series
The annual John and Helen Collis Lecture brings nationally and internationally recognized experts in the field of art history and archeology to discuss new scholarship, museum exhibitions, and archaeological discoveries. Topics alternate between Ancient Greek and Byzantine art every other year. The lecture is made possible through the John and Helen Collis Family Endowment, the first of its kind at the museum, but similar endowed funding would allow for equally successful and edifying programming on various areas of art scholarship.

The museum welcomes gifts of any amount to sustain these valuable and impactful education programs.