Your Story. Our CMA.


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.

A family wearing masks looking paintings in a gallery.

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 for Solstice and Column & Stripe: The Young Friends of the CMA, before working at the CMA full-time for two years.

“I still love visiting almost monthly with my family,” Reena says. “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.”

A woman seated on a bench in a gallery of Egyptian art

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 at 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.

“My love of art started early on and was fueled greatly by my family’s visits to the CMA,” Hillary says. “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 the years at the museum.”

A man and a woman standing side by side in an outdoor courtyard

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.

“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,” Chelsea says. “The galleries are like a gateway for me, transporting me through time, into whichever area I choose. I love my job and I 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.”

Chelsea’s husband, Omega, adds, “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 that has encouraged me to revisit a space I hadn’t been to in years.”

A woman standing in a gallery displaying several Asian sculptures

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.

“I have stayed connected to the museum through its great programming and fun events like the monthly MIX parties, guest lectures, and special exhibitions,” Allison says. “But I also still love to come and explore the permanent collection. 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.”

A couple standing in a gallery with their reflection on the glass of an artwork case

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 (Dans les Vagues) 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 The Crucifixion of Saint Andrew.

“We’re lucky that we don’t have to leave Cleveland to see works by the world’s best artists,” the couple says. “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.”

A woman and man seated with their son in a gallery of contemporary art

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

Charity D’Amato-Crawford is the founder of a design firm. 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.

“For our family, along with all the masterpieces to see, the museum is a special place for Art Afternoons, Chalk Festivals, and the ARTLENS Gallery,” Charity says. “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.”

A woman holding an infant and standing beside a man in front of the Cleveland Museum of Art

Sarah Palagyi, Michael Ruttinger, and Charles Pallinger

Sarah Palagyi and Michael 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 a gallery, the collection is always easily accessible. The 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.

“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,” the couple says. “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.”

A young woman standing in front of a striped granite wall

Jasmine Showers

Jasmine Showers has enjoyed amazing experiences in her nine years working at the museum and as a CMA member. She has staffed Ohio City Stages concerts, met award-winning musical artists performing at 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.

“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,” Jasmine says. “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.”

An elderly gentleman standing in a gallery of paintings

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.

“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,” Dr. Quilty says. “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.”

A smiling woman wearing a Cleveland Museum of Art facemask standing in front of a red wall

Monica Wilson

Monica Wilson is originally from Detroit, Michigan, but has made Cleveland, Ohio and the museum her home. She first experienced the CMA like many others have, as a young professional, and started volunteering with the former 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 conduct 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.

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,” Monica says. “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.”

A child holds up a large circle to an artwork featuring circular patterns

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 they have visited it more times than he can count.

“We have all had such rich experiences at the museum,” Brian says. “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.”

A young child gazes at the water fountain in front of the Cleveland Museum of Art

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 Greater Cleveland. Whether they are walking the grounds or exploring the galleries, she and her family are always in awe of what they see, even if the smallest ones can’t quite comprehend the entirety of the collection yet.

“We believe deeply in the museum’s mission, for the benefit of all the people forever,” Deanna says. “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.”

A large family smiles as they sit around a long table filled with food

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.

“In 2014, when the glorious atrium was opened, I took my mother, then 84 years old, to visit,” Dianne says. “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 for her great-grandchildren, who now have spent very special days with me there as well.”

A smiling man with a goatee and wearing glasses

Harry Richardson

To Harry, the CMA is an island of beauty and peaceful reflection of the best of mankind. He always finds a piece of art that fills him with tranquility and the realization that despite the ugliness that can happen in the world, beauty is found everywhere man has been.

“To me, it’s about a time or place the artist has seen and has re-created the soul and beauty of,” Harry says. “I find the Egyptian, Roman, and Renaissance galleries to be my go-to places for a sense of center, although I have found beauty in all the exhibitions in one way or another. Thank you, CMA, for the soul-restoring peaceful beauty.”

A man and woman seated closely together, facing forward and smiling

Jan and Stephen Halciak

Jan’s husband of 37 years asked her out on their first “unofficial” date during college when their art teacher requested that the entire class go in groups to the CMA’s then annual May Show.

“Unbeknownst to me,” Jan says, “he made a wish that I would go out on a date with him when he threw a penny into the wishing well that actually went in the cup! Guess it worked!”

A woman with short gray hair wearing glasses and earrings smiles broadly

Susan Clark

Susan first visited the museum when she was a child, and what she remembers the most was the magnificence of the armor court. As her interest in art has grown, she has come back to the museum repeatedly to expand her knowledge of the different forms of art.

“In college, I came and picked a piece of art to write a report on for my art appreciation class,” Susan says. “And I have come back several times to walk through the different galleries. Cleveland has a gem of a museum with so much variety of art that can please any taste.”

A man stands next to the painting “Twilight in the Wilderness” by Frederic Church

Richard Thomas Phillis

Richard’s appreciation for art was inspired by his father, who was always creating different types of artwork, from paintings to sculptures. It’s a love Richard quickly passed down to his own family.

“I wanted my children to experience the culture that the CMA provides,” Richard says. “I asked one thing from them when we went: pick out their favorite artwork for the day and know the artist’s name and home country. It was fun seeing how inspired the kids were. My wife and I had the same task. On one occasion, I saw her standing about 30 feet away from a painting that she couldn’t take her eyes off. As we got closer, we found out it was a painting of a landscape in Sicily by a Sicilian artist, which fascinated my 100% Sicilian wife. I eventually discovered Twilight in the Wilderness by Frederic Church, which is still my favorite painting. It’s a fun experience for our family that we continue to share to this day.”

The image of a mother and her young son are featured in both a framed photograph and brochure laid side-by-side

Jing Lauengco and Adriaen Ferranti

Jing fondly recalls that when her son Adriaen was almost three, she signed him up for his first Saturday morning “Mommy and Me Art Class” at the CMA. She was sitting cross-legged on the floor with him as his teacher, Kate, shared different Baroque master paintings on the large screen. Jing smiled as Adriaen glued his elbow macaroni to the edge of his mini masterpiece, spray painting it gold to mimic the ornate gallery frames he saw on their walking tour a half hour before. She didn’t remember that a CMA photographer was in class that day.

“A few weeks later, at the Ames Family Atrium grand opening, I grabbed a postcard at the front desk,” Jing says. “To our surprise and delight, my son and I had been photographed and were featured on the front of the opening postcard. Later, he was a ‘star’ at preschool, handing out ‘his postcards.’ I still have a copy, which I framed. Every once in a while, we see the image popping up in a CMA email campaign or on the website—reminding me of that special time and special day in our lives. I still have his macaroni mini masterpiece, and though he is now a teen editing memes on his iPad and iPhone, I am forever grateful to the CMA for the memories and magic making that was sparked on that special Saturday.”

A painting depicting the South facade of the Cleveland Museum of Art

Carol Bozic

A longtime CMA member, Carol has a story that goes back several decades to when her mother used to take her and her brother to the museum on many Sundays after church. They would get off the bus on Euclid Ave., walk around the lagoon and into the museum, where they would be greeted by organ music. Carol especially loved the uniqueness of the roof garden and all the swans in the water. Lately she’s been enjoying the Tuesday matinee movies—one of the perks for CMA members.

“My brother’s been a member for decades, so a few years back I tagged myself on as a member,” Carol says. “We still walk the lagoon, and the variety of exhibitions is wonderful. So much beauty within that building—so many stories, architecture, art—you name it, it’s there. What a wonderful treasure we have in Cleveland with the Cleveland Museum of Art. The museum is worth supporting.”

A man stands beside the painting “Early Morning after a Storm at Sea” by Winslow Homer

David Adams

David has felt connected to the CMA for most of his adult life, even though most of that time was spent far away before he returned home to Cleveland. As a poet, he’s been inspired to write after seeing several exhibitions at the CMA. One that stands out to him as possibly the most important was Reckoning with Winslow Homer, which he saw in 1990.

“It’s probably difficult for the staff at the CMA to truly realize just how much the museum’s art can intersect with what is going on in a visitor’s personal life,” David says. “The Winslow Homer show was certainly that with me. I wrote a prose poem titled Here, There, and Away shortly after that show, trying to pull together what felt like disparate threads of my life. The poem was published in a Maine literary magazine and was included in my collection, Room for Darkness, Room for Light. The poem proved to be a touchstone for my own approach to poetry and its place in art. After the pandemic, I don’t know what normal will feel like going forward, but if it includes wandering through the museum, that will be a great blessing.”

A teenage girl wears a mask standing next to the painting “Morning Glory with Black” by Georgia O’Keeffe

Diane Strachan

Working at the CMA has allowed Diane to share her love of art with her family, which has enriched all of their lives.

“I love bringing my family to the CMA,” Diane says. “Here is my niece Kelsey Grace Burdyshaw in front of her favorite artist/painting!


Richard Lightbody

A CMA member since his medical school days in the 1970s, Richard often parked his white 1959 Chevy Impala in the museum’s free surface lot by Wade Oval. One day, after a trip to the country with friends, his car broke down on MLK (then called Liberty Blvd.) and East 105th St.

“A kind woman helped me push my car up to the CMA parking lot, where it sat,” Richard says. “The next day, a security officer told me that he had recognized the car and stopped the police from towing it away. He told them I was a regular visitor. That guard was my guardian, and so was the museum. Many visits have I had there, short and long.”

Mary Gross

Mary grew up in a blue-collar working-class family about 30 minutes east of Cleveland. She recalls that every year around Christmas, her parents took the family to the Cleveland Museum of Art. Her parents knew nothing about art but must have felt it was important to expose their children to. The fact that admission was free was also a factor.

“Coming to the CMA was like walking into a dream,” Mary says. “We just wandered the galleries, in no order, just marveling. As a child, I was drawn to the art with pretty colors and recognizable subjects. My taste in artwork has expanded since those visits with my parents, and I’ve been lucky enough to visit many other wonderful art museums across America and in Europe. When I come home to Cleveland, I can appreciate even more the quality and breadth of the CMA’s collection. My favorite work of art is Franz Kline’s Accent Grave, but at every visit, I find a new contender for ‘favorite thing at the CMA.’”

Juliette Madigan

Juliette remembers being very young in the 1950s and walking up the stairs to the museum’s original entrance in her patent leather shoes.

“Entering the museum through those doors made everything inside magic,” Juliette says. “And the armored court didn’t hurt either. All my life I’ve found magic at the CMA, and it’s stayed with me. As an adult, I’ve visited museums all over the world and in each I can reflect on a piece I know and love at the CMA.”