Tags for: Looking to the Future
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Looking to the Future

Lobby renovations to enhance the visitor experience
February 16, 2024
Lobby of museum with people walking around

Rendering of the Horace Kelley Art Foundation North Lobby with updated lighting, flooring, signage, and coat check 

In the CMA’s Year in Review for 1970, director Sherman E. Lee commented on the extensive renovation to the north entrance: “The new wing by Marcel Breuer and Hamilton Smith is not only a beautiful, powerful, and rational architectural statement, but it is also a creative part of the main line of progressive architecture in the mid-twentieth century.” In the decades since, the upper and lower level lobbies have remained largely untouched, as other projects and expansions have taken priority. We now plan to build on this vision of our esteemed predecessors by enhancing the Horace Kelley Art Foundation North Lobby and the Susan M. Kaesgen Education Gallery and Lobby to optimal function for our visitors. 

The museum’s increased attendance and anticipated future growth have spurred the rethinking of these architecturally significant spaces, originally designed by Marcel Breuer, one of the most influential architects of the Bauhaus. The renovations have been guided by the museum’s strategic plan and the principles of historic preservation. The updated lobbies will welcome visitors in the most user-friendly manner, enable the CMA to realize its ambition to welcome 100,000 school group visitors annually, and showcase the education art collection in student- and community-curated exhibitions.  

Growing with Our Visitors
Known as the front door to the museum, the Horace Kelley Art Foundation North Lobby is the first impression the majority of visitors receive of the CMA. The current design often results in visitors and school groups competing for space at peak times of day. Due for a modern facelift, the north lobby will receive a fully updated lighting system and a new digital display of “What’s on” in the museum. This highly visible screen will provide visitors with information about daily tours, artwork rotations, new exhibitions, and other programs. The project also includes a reconfiguration of the coat check, a new customer service center, modifications to the flooring to reduce the possibility of slipping, comfortable updates to the seating area, and the reworking of existing security systems into a less intrusive and more aesthetically pleasing setup. These renovations will leverage the most up-to-date infrastructure and technology to ensure an enhanced visitor experience for all.

On the lower level, the Susan M. Kaesgen Education Gallery and Lobby will be transformed into a welcoming space for school groups and other tours, complete with its own coat check and reception, as well as specially designed exhibition vitrines. The lower lobby will also be reconfigured to reverse changes that were made over time, removing walls to add space and restoring the area to its original size and floor plan. The beloved wishing well and the Turtle Baby sculpture by Edith Barretto Stevens Parsons will remain on view in the newly renovated space.

Details to Know before You Visit

  • Renovations will be underway from May to October.
  • All galleries, the café, and the store will remain open and the exhibition schedule will be unaffected.
  • The entrance at the north lobby will be accessible from the garage by a covered and weather-protected walkway. Other than a slightly longer walk, the visitor experience will not be impacted.
  • Any performance, lecture, or event that would normally have taken place in Gartner Auditorium will be hosted in other spaces at the museum, at other CMA venues (Transformer Station or Community Arts Center), or at partner organizations.


Funding for this capital project was spearheaded by board chair Ellen Stirn Mavec, through a leadership gift from the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation.

The Chair’s Challenge for the lobby renovation was met with principal support from the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation, Jon and Jane Outcalt, and the State of Ohio. Major support provided by James and Susan Ratner and the Sauerland Foundation. Generous support provided by Dieter and Susan Kaesgen and the Womens Council of the Cleveland Museum of Art.