Visit Picasso for free in Cincinnati

For students who live on campus, it might feel like you’re stuck in Highland Heights, especially when you’re looking for things to do on the weekend or during a rare free weekday moment. Options are limited when money, location, transportation and entertainment value are taken into account. The Cincinnati Art Museum provides a getaway into the heart of Cincinnati and into the past of classical art.

The art museum offers free admission daily into its extensive art collection. With two temporary exhibits accompanying a permanent collection of more than 60,000 works spanning 6,000 years, once you’re in, there’s no turning back.

The first temporary exhibit, “Wedded Perfection: Two Centuries of Wedding Gowns,” is showing until Jan. 30. The exhibit features more than 50 wedding gowns ranging from 18th century to modern-day designers such as Vera Wang and Geoffrey Beene.

“Wedded Perfection” explores the economic expansion in the 19th century and how the post-World War II era refashioned the wedding gown from a symbol of purity to a symbol of wealth and glamour. The exhibit also explores how the 21st century bride’s gown is the centerpiece of the entire wedding.

The second temporary exhibit, “Force of Nature,” combines the unlikely pair of contemporary Japanese ceramics and paintings from the French village of Barbizon. Although the two seem like complete opposites in their geographic history, time periods and artistic traditions, both collections use nature as the driving force of inspiration.

The works included in “Force of Nature” represent significant moments of artistic revolution in their time periods. In the 1830s, the painters from Barbizon chose to paint pure depictions of nature and landscapes which encouraged future artistic experimentation, including the acceptance of contemporary subjects and abstraction. The contemporary Japanese ceramics displayed in the exhibit were created by reusing ancient methods of accepting nature as a subject and phenomenon. “Force of Nature” is showing in Gallery 226 until May 22.

In addition to American and European collections, the museum’s galleries extend to the art of ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. African and Far and Near Eastern art are also displayed. The museum also offers the only collection of art from outside of Jordan from the ancient culture of the Nabataean people.

Cincinnati Art Museum also includes an extensive collection of costumes and textiles, decorative art and photographs.

Still in its original location in Eden Park, part of Mount Adams, the Cincinnati Art Museum has been supported locally and nationally since its opening in 1886. The museum was quickly heralded worldwide as “The Art Palace of the West,” according to its website.

The permanent collection at the museum cover works of art from a variety of eras, geographic locations and mediums. The American and European Painting and Sculpture collection include works by American masters Copley, Cole and Harnet, and European artists such as Renoir, Monet and Picasso.
The museum has seen many renovations and additions in its lifetime thanks to generous donations from the community. The latest addition, the Cincinnati Wing, was built in 2003.

The art museum website describes The Cincinnati Wing as the first permanent display of the Queen City’s art history in the country. It houses 15 galleries and 400 objects of art created for or by Cincinnatians since 1788. The exhibition includes five themes; each represent the significance of the relationship between art, the city and its people and industry.

Visitors can also participate in the many events the Cincinnati Art Museum holds daily, although not all are free. Events include guided tours and Reel Art, where guests view a classic movie and receive a tour of the museum. The next Reel Art event is from 1 to 3 p.m. Feb. 6, showing “Who Gets to Call It Art.”

To save money and receive benefits and discounts, students can become a member for $30. Benefits include free parking (non-members pay $4), discounts to the Terrace Café and events, and invitations to special events and gallery openings.

For more information on collections, event calendars or membership visit or call (513) 721-ARTS.

Story by Claire Higgins