The Cincinnati Museum Center is located in the historic Union Terminal train station.
From contemporary to classical and historical to scientific, Cincinnati’s wide selection of museums should satisfy anyone’s quest for knowledge. In addition to works from around the world, the city’s museums have an extensive collection of artifacts from Cincinnati’s history. Visitors will be able to find a site suitable to their tastes, whether interested in traditional art exhibits or modern technological displays. The three places below emphasize Cincinnati’s cultural significance within the greater context of Ohio, the United States and the world.
Cincinnati Art Museum
One of the oldest art institutions in the United States, this museum was founded in 1881 and is home to a collection of more than 60,000 works of art that span 6,000 years. In 1886, when the museum building was completed in Eden Park, the site was touted as “The Art Palace of the West.” Due in part to several renovations, including a $13 million project in 1993, the museum’s collection stands today as the largest in Ohio. In 2003, the Cincinnati Wing opened to celebrate the art history of the city, displaying works by Cincinnti-born or trained artists. If the new exhibit wasn’t enough to strengthen ties to the surrounding community, the museum also announced that year that it was eliminating its general admission fee forever. The Cincinnati Art Museum hosts numerous national and international traveling exhibitions every year in addition to their outstanding collections. Permanent collections range from ancient Egyptian and Greek art to Native American and African pieces. The museum is known for being family friendly with a puppet theatre, hands-on interactive art and Wee Wednesdays that are specially designed for preschoolers. Recent exhibitions include Wedded Perfection: Two Centuries of Wedding Gowns and Rembrandt: Three Faces of the Master. 953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45202. Open Tu.-Su. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Free admission
Taft Museum of Art
As one of the finest small art museums in the nation, the Taft Museum of Art goes to show that excellent art collections do come in diminutive packages. The museum is listed in the National Park Service’s list of National Historic Landmarks and has achieved accreditation from the American Association of Museums. Built in 1820, the house was home to Anna Sinton Taft and her husband Charles Phelps Taft. Charles’ half-brother, William Howard Taft, accepted the nomination for President of the United States at the house in 1908. In 1927, the Tafts donated their home and collection of 690 works of art to the people of Cincinnati. After a few years of major remodeling, the house opened as the Taft Museum in 1932. An extensive renovation and expansion took place at the turn of the 21st century, and the museum reopened in 2004. Today, the museum is home to collections such as 19th century American canvases, Chinese porcelains, sculptures, furniture and European old master paintings. The museum annually highlights the work of an emerging artist from the region. Recent works on display have varied from Francisco Goya’s romantic paintings to Antique Christmas, which displayed holiday decorations created during the years that the Taft house was inhabited. 316 Pike Street Cincinnati, OH 45202. Open W-Su. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Adults $8, Students and Seniors $6, 18 and under Free. Sundays are free.
Cincinnati Museum Center
While the Taft Museum of Art shows that smaller galleries can house meaningful works of art, the Cincinnati Museum Center proves that being bigger can also have its advantages. Originally opened in 1933 as the Union Terminal train station, the building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977. After closing shortly, the site became a shopping mall in the 1980s before opening as Cincinnati Museum Center in 1990. Today, the center is home to museums, a theater and library. A cultural center for the surrounding community, the building hosts more than 700 events and 1.3 million visitors annually. The center is home to the Cincinnati History Museum, one of the largest urban history museums in the United States. This museum houses permanent exhibits on the early history of Cincinnati, including Cincinnati in Motion, a model of the city from 1900 through the 1940s. The Duke Energy Children’s Museum, one of the top 10 children’s museums in the country, features nine interactive exhibit areas suited for toddlers to 10-year-olds. The center is also home to the Museum of Natural History and Science, which examines the natural and geographical history of the Ohio Valley in particular. Here visitors can explore a re-created limestone cavern or experience Cincinnati’s Ice Age. Cincinnati Museum Center’s OMNIMAX Theater, a five-story, 72-foot-diameter domed screen surrounds visitors with exceptional visual and audio quality. With its wide range of educational and entertainment opportunities, it’s no wonder that the Cincinnati Museum Center is recognized as one of the top cultural attractions in the Midwest. 1301 Western Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45203. Open M-Sa. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Su. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Any one museum: Adults $8.50, Seniors (60+) $7.50, Children (ages 3-12) $6.50; All museums pass: Adults $12.50, Seniors (60+) $11.50, Children (ages 3-12) $8.50