The Cleveland Museum of Art

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Records of the Construction of the Cleveland Museum of Art: 1958 Building

Background Information

The 1958 wing of the Cleveland Museum of Art, represents the museum's first capital expansion. By 1950, after thirty-four years in the original 1916 building of the museum, the collections and staff needed more space. The museum hired the architectural firm of Hays & Ruth (originally Conrad, Hays, Simpson & Ruth) in 1951 to design a new wing for the museum. Architect J. Byers Hays was responsible for the design of the building, which connected to the 1916 building on the north side of the museum. The floor plan added additional gallery space, workspace, a new library, and created a courtyard bordered by the new building and the 1916 building. The Sam W. Emerson Company was hired as the contractor in 1953, with ground broken for the building in 1955. The building process was overseen by director William M. Milliken, president of the board of trustees Harold T. Clark, and associate director Sherman E. Lee, who served as the museum's representative to the architects. The construction ended up being more difficult and expensive than anticipated, and two of the museum's founding trusts, John Huntington Art and Polytechnic Trust and the Horace Kelley Art Foundation agreed to alter their agreements to the museum so that money earmarked toward acquisitions could be used for the construction process. The museum even had to close beginning in April 1957, so that the construction could be finished. The new wing was dedicated with great fanfare in March 1958, and the museum reopened to the public.