Founded in 1881, the Cincinnati Art Museum is touted as one of the country's oldest visual arts institutions and the first general art museum west of the Alleghenies to be established in its own building.
The Cincinnati Art Museum opened to world acclaim in May 1886, heralded as "The Art Palace of the West." An extensive two-year, $13 million renovation project, completed in January 1993, restored the grandeur of the Museum's interior architecture and uncovered long-hidden architectural details, in addition to creating new gallery space, and improving lighting and climate control. A prominent element of the building's original design, the Great Hall, was restored and now includes a newly designed double staircase. The original 1886 entrance columns and stone arch, and other architectural details, were uncovered after more than 40 years. Notable features include the original Indiana limestone walls and polished black granite columns with ornately carved capitals.
With the renovation complete, 88 galleries provide for the display of Cincinnati's widely recognized permanent collection, which numbers more than 80,000 works of art. The museum's temporary exhibition space was expanded to approximately 10,000 square feet to enable the museum to accommodate major temporary exhibitions, as well as several smaller ones.
At the Cincinnati Art Museum in Eden Park, visitors sample 6,000 years of world art distinguished by its extremely high quality. In addition to the art of ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, there are extensive galleries of Near and Far Eastern art, Native American and African art. In the future there will be extensive galleries of furniture, glass, ceramics, silver, costumes, and folk art. The painting collection includes works by such European old masters as Titian, Van Dyck, Hals, Rubens, and Gainsborough, as well as 20th-century works by Picasso, Braque, Modigliani, Miró and Chagall. The American collection holds works by Copley, Cole, Harnett, Wyeth, Wood, Hopper, Diebenkorn, and Rothko, as well as major artists from the 1970s and 1980s.
Areas of special interest include the only collection of ancient Nabataean art outside of Jordan, the renowned Herbert Greer French collection of old master prints, and a fine collection of European and American portrait miniatures. The museum holds and displays numerous paintings from Cincinnati's "Golden Age" (1830-1900) as well as Cincinnati's own Rookwood pottery and more than 40 pieces of Cincinnati carved furniture.