Your Story. Our CMA.

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Your Story. Our CMA.

The Eric and Jane Nord family gift has inspired the CMA to seek stories and reflections about art and the museum. The CMA invites community members to submit their own stories through the link below or post a short video, image, or story on social media using #OurCMA and #TheNordChallenge.


Reena, Jody, Simone, and Elodie Goodwin

Reena Goodwin, originally from Cincinnati, quickly made the CMA her second home when she moved to Cleveland. It was a place she enjoyed with friends on the weekends, where she knew she could always catch an amazing exhibition or discover new music she had never heard before. She especially loved the Egyptian and Byzantine galleries because they took her back in time to family trips to Egypt as a child, which left such an impression on her. Reena’s affinity for the museum eventually turned into her volunteering on committees including Solstice and Column & Stripe before working at the CMA full-time for two years.

Says Reena, “I still love visiting almost monthly with my family. At the CMA, you can experience so many mediums, places, and points of view, it’s remarkable. It can be easy to feel intimidated by a museum such as this, but the CMA really strives to be accessible to everyone. In addition to being free, and the efforts the museum makes to expand its footprint outside of its physical space, the CMA’s commitment to the community is palpable through its eclectic programming. Whether it’s to literally stroll through the galleries together for an afternoon of inspiration or to take advantage of the fantastic educational programming for our kids, there has been a place for each of our life’s chapters at the CMA.”


Hillary Maul

Hillary Maul is a board member of Column & Stripe: The Young Friends of the CMA. She fondly remembers the gallery discussions and basement brunches at the museum on Sunday afternoons with her family as a young girl. After working in the galleries as an undergraduate at Davidson College and volunteering in the Dallas Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Hillary was genuinely thrilled to become involved with the Cleveland Museum of Art upon returning to the area.

Says Hillary, “My love of art started early on and was fueled greatly by my family’s visits to the CMA. The opportunity to see and experience the work of famed artists I had only read about was truly formative. I’m proud to support the CMA through our young professional membership efforts and art education throughout the Cleveland area. Going forward, I hope to become a CMA docent and share the passion and knowledge that I’ve developed throughout my years within the museum.”


Chelsea and Omega Jackson

Chelsea Jackson began working at the museum in 2011 and has been a CMA member from the start. Having moved to Cleveland after graduating with a major in art history and a minor in business from Wittenberg University, she was thrilled to begin her career in guest services. Although her responsibilities have evolved, she still loves experiencing the museum’s galleries and seeing visitors enjoy iconic spaces like the rotunda or the armor court.

Says Chelsea, “I think about how I studied so many of these works in college and now I get to see them in person whenever I want. The galleries are like a gateway for me, transporting me through time, into whichever area I choose. I love my job and believe in the work being done here. As young professionals, we truly care about supporting the places we value in our city, ones that give something in return to the community; for the CMA, it’s a free space with invaluable art programming for all.”

Adds Chelsea’s husband, Omega, “I grew up in Cleveland Heights, and the things I remember most about the museum are from school field trips, like seeing a Picasso exhibition after walking there with my classmates. My first experience with Chelsea was at the staff preview for the Kusama exhibition. I’m so proud that my wife works here and has encouraged me to revisit a space I hadn’t been to in years.”


Allison Retter

Allison is a lifelong Clevelander, and the CMA will always hold a special place in her heart. In fact, it was the museum itself that sparked her love of art when she visited as a child. Allison turned her passion into her career when she graduated with a master’s degree in art history and museum studies from Case Western Reserve University. She recently joined the board of the CMA’s affinity group Column & Stripe: The Young Friends of the CMA, which gives her even more access to Cleveland’s rich art community.

Says Allison, “I have stayed connected to the museum through its great programming and fun events like the monthly MIX parties, guest lectures, and special exhibitions. But I also still love to come and explore the permanent collection too. It lets you experience things from a different perspective. You get to see the world through so many different lenses. Also, the CMA has done a terrific job keeping the museum as accessible as possible during the pandemic, which is to be applauded.”


Sean and Whitney Rooney

Sean Rooney and Whitney Anderson Rooney have been CMA members since 2013. What they love about the CMA is the global perspective it brings and how it has given them an education in art, history, and culture. Whitney is partial to the vivid colors and bold brushstrokes of Post-Impressionism. A print of Paul Gauguin’s In the Waves hanging at their home has inspired their interior design. Sean, a former violin player, loves the dark colors, grandeur, and drama of all works in the Italian Baroque gallery. His favorite painting is Caravaggio’s Crucifixion of Saint Andrew.

Say Sean and Whitney, “We’re lucky that we don’t have to leave Cleveland to see works by the world’s best artists. Free admission means it’s accessible to everyone, which provides a portal to the rest of the world from our backyard. The CMA is one of Cleveland’s most stunning spaces, and the atrium truly takes your breath away. You can’t help but feel transported. Also, in 2018 we got married at Transformer Station, so the museum and its influence on Cleveland’s art world will always be a part of our love story.”


Charity D’Amato-Crawford, Ben Crawford, and Max Crawford

Charity D’Amato-Crawford is the founder of a design firm and a CMA member since 2006. She is naturally drawn to and inspired by any work at the museum that’s bold and graphic. She’s quick to mention Ellsworth Kelly’s Red Blue as one of her favorites. A CMA member since 2006, Charity knows that when she visits with family or friends, she’ll always experience something new and exquisite. From a painting detail she’s never noticed to a new exhibition on view, there is always something exciting happening at the CMA. It’s her family’s favorite go-to place in town.

Says Charity, “For our family, along with all the masterpieces to see, the museum is a special place for art afternoons, Chalk Festivals, and the children’s gallery. The museum connects all ages, and walks of life. It’s there to support us for whatever season of life we are in. We will continue to support it as well and keep coming back as we grow and change.”


Sarah Palagyi, Michael Ruttinger, and Charles Pallinger

Sarah Palagyi and Micheal Ruttinger are volunteers with several CMA affinity groups, including being pioneer members of Column & Stripe: The Young Friends of the CMA when it was reinstituted at the CMA in 2012. One of the many things they love about the museum is that whether they visit for a full day or pop in on a whim to see the gallery, the collection is always easily accessible. CMA will forever have a special place in their relationship, since Michael proposed to Sarah in front of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s portrait of Romaine Lacaux, her favorite since childhood. She said yes.

Say Sarah and Michael, “Most Clevelanders don’t fully appreciate how lucky we are to have a world-class museum that is free and accessible to the public—something that is unheard of in any other major American city. In addition, the CMA continues to transform our community by bringing arts and education outside its walls to inspire students in the community. Now that our family has grown, we cannot wait to introduce our son Charles to the museum to nurture his own growth and creativity. We want to make sure the CMA remains just as vibrant for him and future generations.”


Jasmine Showers

Jasmine Showers has enjoyed amazing experiences in her nine years working at the museum and as a CMA member. She has staffed the concerts known as Ohio City Stages, met award-winning musical artists performing in the museum, enjoyed Solstice parties, made forever friends, and developed a genuine love of art in many forms. Jasmine has also introduced countless first-time visitors to the museum, a big part of the CMA’s sincere effort to connect with the community on all levels.

Says Jasmine, “From the ‘you are welcome here’ signs to the multicultural events to the items they stock in the stores, maintaining no entry fee, no suggested donation, and more, the CMA makes this world-renowned institution accessible to all. I personally feel connected to an array of different cultures through exhibitions, performances, activities, and even the foods served in the café. To me the museum is about history, beauty, and a deep connection to Cleveland culture.”


Dr. James Quilty

Dr. James Quilty, a CMA member since 1998, grew up in an artistic family, as his mother played piano and his brother became an artist and art teacher at the high school and university levels. To James, the works at the CMA represent beauty, personal and societal challenges, historical significance, and humankind’s individual and collective magisterial and broken journeys.

Says Dr. Quilty, “The CMA makes me feel reverential and in awe of our human imagination and courage since the dawn of civilization, as captured and sustained by the museum. It offers a glimpse into humankind’s journey over the past three-plus millennia for me. For others it can represent a spiritually stimulating experience different for each or a simple escape from our daily existences. I’ve made both kinds of visits; each is always positive. I can think of no other Cleveland site that returns so much for my small investment.”


Monica Wilson

Monica Wilson is originally from Detroit, Michigan, but has made Cleveland, Ohio, and the museum her home. She began her experiences at the CMA like many others have, as a young professional, and started volunteering with the Young Friends, an affiliate group for members under 40. As a volunteer for more than 20 years, she feels privileged that in a city as big as Cleveland, she has the chance to do something that feels exclusive and that she may not have access to in other metropolitan areas. As an usher, she attended the premier of Jim Brown: All American, a documentary by Spike Lee, and had the chance to hear both Spike and Jim do a question and answer session afterward. During one concert she ushered, Monica met Regina Carter, a renowned American jazz violinist and also a former high school classmate, who graciously signed her yearbook.

Says Monica, “‘For the benefit of all the people forever’ touches me in a way that’s hard to explain, as I don’t have the words to describe the feeling of contentment, pride, and love it invokes. The CMA remaining free provides access to the entire community, regardless of class, connection, and power, and is a source of community itself, creating an area where we can all experience art in a safe and welcoming space.”


Brian Friedt

Brian Friedt, a CMA Member since 2001, has been fascinated with the museum since he was a child. One of his earliest memories is the dramatic lighting of the old Asian art galleries. He can still recall the faces of the guardian statues peeking from the shadows of his mind’s eye. His wife and his sons share his passion for all that the museum offers and have visited it more times than he can count.

Says Brian, “We have all had such rich experiences at the museum. All of my boys have loved the story hour; one that stands out is the time we did yoga in the galleries. The family game nights were magical experiences for all of us; it felt deeply special to be in the museum so late, pursuing our secret missions. We’re so lucky to have the museum.”


Deanna Palermo

Deanna Palermo, a CMA member since 2012, passionately supports the CMA for the first-class art experience it provides for her family and so many others in the Greater Cleveland region. Whether they are walking the grounds or exploring the galleries, she and her family are always in awe by what they see, even if the smallest ones can’t quite comprehend the entirety of the collection yet.

Says Deanna, “We believe deeply in the museum’s mission, ‘to benefit all the people forever.’ No matter who you are, you can see amazing artworks or participate in great events like Parade the Circle. We are so grateful to have this world-renowned institution in our city. Our children know they are in a special place.”


Diane Ferri

Diane Ferri’s mother was a prolific artist and taught Diane to appreciate art through her example, so the Cleveland Museum of Art was always a welcomed destination for them. They went to all the special exhibitions together as far back as the famous May Shows. When the CMA’s renovation plans were announced in 2005, her mother and her artist friends joked that they might not be alive to see the ambitious changes.

Says Diane, “In 2014, when the glorious atrium was opened, I took my mother, then 84 years old, to visit. We had a wonderful time as always, but it was on that visit that I noticed something was wrong. That was our last visit to the museum together, but I will treasure it, knowing she indeed got to see all the wonderful improvements, assured that they would be there for future artists, for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who now have spent very special days with me there as well.”