Magazine Rack: Recent Article Looks at the Early History of the Print Club of Cleveland

Submitted by Jason Schafer on

The Ingalls Library receives an astounding 1,200 periodical titles many of which feature articles about the museum and its collections, history, and activities as well as articles written by museum staff. This ongoing series gives you a glimpse into the varied and interesting topics that can be found in the serials collection.

High Level Bridge

The July-August issue of Art in Print includes a color woodcut by Rudolph Ruzicka called The High Level Bridge, Cleveland. The image dates from 1926 and depicts the “High Level” or Detroit-Superior Bridge, considered an engineering marvel upon its completion in 1918. The item is one of the more than 18,000 prints in Cleveland Museum of Art’s collection and is featured in an article entitled “Inter-Collected: The Shared History of the Print Club and Museum Collection.” 

In the piece, author Theresa Moir Engelbrecht chooses as her subject the important cultural contributions of several print clubs that sprung to life around the United States during the early 20th century. Engelbrecht takes a particularly close look at print clubs in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Cleveland, illuminating the powerful influence these groups had on the development of their respective museum collections.

The Print Club of Cleveland was founded by museum benefactor Ralph Thrall King in 1919 “with the aim of aiding The Cleveland Museum of Art to acquire a print collection of high excellence.” In the same year, the Cleveland Museum of Art organized the Print Department and began acquiring prints in an official capacity with King serving as curator on a volunteer basis. Print Club members contributed 286 of the 299 prints added to the collection in 1919 alone and would eventually donate to the museum one third of its current print holdings. Englebrecht notes that a variety of successful club initiatives, including a program begun in 1924 that commissioned new prints for distribution to Print Club members, added works by American artists such as Thomas Hart Benton, Reginald March and Rockwell Kent to the CMA collection.