The Cleveland Institute of Art


The Cleveland Institute of Art was first established as The Cleveland School of Arts in 1882.  The art institute is located in in Cleveland’s University Circle, which is a major cultural center.  The institute has main studios that are housed in a former Ford Model T factory.  The art institute boasts quality programs and spectacular achievements by many of its graduates.  Academics at the CIA are industrial design, sculpture, ceramics, painting, printmaking, enameling, glass, photography, drawing, interior design, jewelry, and metals.  To keep up with and contribute to the modern world, the institute offers fields of study in animation, graphic design, digital arts, game design, and biomedical art.  The institute is the oldest art organization in the city of Cleveland.  The local firm Hubbell and Benes, who later designed the art museum, designed the art institute.


In the present day, it is hard to imagine how the art institute initially operated.  In 1882, two eager women, are held responsible for the development of the Cleveland School of Arts.  In the fall of 1882, Sarah Kimball founded the art school.  She did so in the memory of her husband, and with the help of the school’s first and only teacher, Harriet J. Kester.  Kester was formerly the principal of the new Western Reserve School of Design for Women.  At the start of the art school, it was Mrs. Kester and one student located in one room of Sarah Kimball’s home.


The art school grew, employing men and women, and accepting men and women as students.  In 1891, the school moved into Kelley Mansion, then 1001 Willson Avenue, or what is now East 55th Street.  The mansion was designed to resemble an Italian villa.  Drawing was implemented from the beginning, with drawing classes being held in the attic of Kelley mansion.  Early on the art school held events receiving sponsorship from local businessmen in hopes to raise money for the school’s benefit.

The art institute moved to University Circle continuing its growth, expanding studio space, galleries, and learning space.  The institute has leadership programs in other parts of the world, such as in Florence, Italy.  Longtime president Joseph McCullough always pushed for the institute to further its facilities.  Over the years, the institute has been home to many loyal faculty, students, and citizens.  It continues to grow with the help of outside benefactors.  The Cleveland Institute of Art holds its tradition of awarding and honoring its talented students and graduates, ensuring the art of innovation in our world.

Image Courtesy of Cleveland Memory. Cleveland State University.

Sarah Kimball, founder of the Cleveland School of Arts in 1882.  She intensively labored to get the school running and worked hard to persuade others to support the arts.  New industries were emerging, and the timing couldn’t be better for a city on the move to incorporate innovation within arts.

Image courtesy of Cleveland Memory.  Cleveland State University.

Kelley mansion was home to the School of Art for more than a dozen years.  The School of Art lobbied for the Kelley estate and won out.  The Kelley mansion was used to its full potential.  The entire property was being utilized for classes.  Drawing classes took place in the attic, through the cold of winter and the heat of summer.  The outdoor stables were even in use for clay modeling classes.

Image courtesy of The Cleveland Press.  Special Collections. Cleveland State University.

The above is a picture of a Freshman watercolor class taken in 1956.  Painting was introduced very early on at the art institute.  Diversity has always been an integral part of the institute.

Image courtesy of Cleveland Memory. Cleveland State University.

Edris Eckhardt in 1931 majored in sculpture at the institute of art.  She is responsible for supervising a federal arts project in the 1930s.  Artwork from under this particular project can still be seen throughout Cleveland in places like the Cleveland Public Library, the Public Auditorium, and various others.

Image courtesy of Cleveland Press Collection.  Special Collections.  Cleveland State University.

Joseph McCullough reigned as loyal supporter and president to the art institute for 35 years.  There is an endowment fund in his name that the institutes trustees established.  The scholarship is awarded annually to an outstanding fourth-year painting student.  A painter himself, McCullough, was creative in his outlook on how the institute could shape itself.

Image courtesy of The Cleveland Press Collection.  Special Collections.  Cleveland State University.

The old Ford Factory provides most of the studio space for the Cleveland Institute of Art.  In honor of McCullough, the factory was renamed in 1990 as the Joseph McCullough Center for the Visual Arts.  The building is essential to artists as it provides tremendous space and light.  In the above photograph, one can see how important these elements are to have.  The photo was taken of a sculpting class in 1947.

Image courtesy of The Cleveland Press Collection.  Special Collections.  Cleveland State University.

Physical and financial improvements made to the art institute allowed for more equipment/tools.  Photography is offered as a focus, as well as, film making.  In fields where lighting and space are crucial, these classes are held in the Old Factory (not pictured).  Above, pictured  are renovations being made to the Cleveland Institute of Art location on East Boulevard.

Image courtesy of The Cleveland Press Collection.  Special Collections.  Cleveland State University.

One of the art institute’s ways of attracting young, talented, artists, is to advertise.  The above is a photo of art students who were awarded for their designs.  Not only does the institute award newcomers but it awards post-graduates, as well, for further professional development.

Image courtesy of Cleveland Memory. Cleveland State University.

A more modern picture of a part of the Cleveland Institute of Art. In 1989, the institute further developed its Reinberger Galleries.  The gallery committees goal, comprised of faculty and students, was to highlight contemporary art unique to the Cleveland area.

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3 Responses to The Cleveland Institute of Art

  1. Avatar of Mark Souther Mark Souther says:

    We cannot use images scanned from a book both for copyright reasons and quality reasons (unless we get a clean scan, with permission). You’ll need to delete these from the site a.s.a.p. and find suitable replacements from permitted sources.

  2. Avatar of Mark Souther Mark Souther says:

    The following caption isn’t fully clear: “The Kelley mansion was home to the School of Art for more than a dozen years. The School of Art lobbied for the Kelley estate and won out. It was a highly controversial situation at the time, however, it was a success.” — You might state why it was controversial.

    Overall, this description and the captions look good. Again, of course, you’ll need to see if you can obtain permission for the images or find alternatives due to copyright.

  3. Avatar of zlafleur zlafleur says:

    Only critique comes in the arrangement of the paragraphs. Transitioning from paragraph to paragraph was confusing because I believe they don’t follow a specific chronological order. This lead for a fairly confusing read, though the content was all very interesting and informative.

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