The Man Who Named the Museum

Submitted by Matthew Gengler on

Like his fellow museum benefactors, Horace Kelley was a business man. Born on this date in 1819, Kelley made his fortune in real estate but died before the museum was built. Though he was raised on an island which bore his family name (Kelley's Island which is now a tourist destination in Lake Erie), the ascertation that he named the museum might be a bit of a stretch, there is truth there. As outlined in Object Lessons: Cleveland Builds an Art Museum, the trustees of his estate established a corporate entity known as the Cleveland Museum of Art as early as 1899. The three trusts working individually to establish cultural institutions in the city, eventually found shared interest in the idea of a single institution. Due to numerous projects and ventures throughout the city, it was difficult, if not impossible to unite the three trusts. Thus, in 1913 they formed a new organization with the name the Cleveland Museum of Art as the centerpiece of their shared vision. The name, used earlier by the Kelley Trustees, would eventually serve as the name of the museum. Though the Huntington Trust wished the museum to be named for John Huntington, more egalitarian, inclusive name was chosen. And therefore, we remember Horace Kelley on his birthday, the man who kind of named the museum.