Built when the City of Cleveland was coming of age, the museum is a physical manifestation of the hopes and dreams of a community hungry for access to arts and culture. It was by design that the art museum and other cultural institutions were built within walking distance of each other. One hundred years later we celebrate the ongoing achievement of the museum with an exhibition of archival images that illustrate significant and unique moments in our history. The images selected for the exhibition provide a unique look at how the museum became what it is today.
For many years only two men, William Milliken and Sherman Lee, shaped the course of collecting, exhibiting, and interpreting the works of art. Both men served as director for more than twenty years, sequentially. In this time, the museum grew from a small museum with only a handful of objects in the collection, to the world-class institution that it is today.
The museum may be unique in having from the beginning a collection within a collection – objects acquired for educational exhibition throughout the city. The original education program, which for a time included a Children’s Museum, has achieved national distinction. Since the beginning of the museum's history children have been a key audience for programs and exhibitions. That tradition continues to this day with education programming for children of all ages.
For more images of the way we were, visit the Way We Were exhibition in the Susan M. Kaesgen education gallery on the lower level of the North Wing.