The Columbus Museum of Art is an art museum located in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Formed in 1878 as the Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, it was the first art museum to register its charter with the state of Ohio. Its original building was the Sessions Mansion. It was replaced on the same site by the current building, which opened on January 22, 1931. It was designed by Columbus architects Richards, McCarty and Bulford. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 19, 1992, under its original name.
The museum had historically focused on European and American art up through the early modern period, but in recent years has branched into more contemporary art exhibits and a permanent photography collection. Highlights of its permanent collection include early Cubist paintings by Picasso and Juan Gris, and works by Cézanne, Boucher, Ingres, Degas, Matisse, Monet, Edward Hopper, and Norman Rockwell. The Museum also has a substantial collection of paintings by Columbus native George Bellows. Its photography collection includes works by Berenice Abbott and Eugène Atget.
Most of the Museum's galleries are traditionally decorated with walls of various colors, rather than the stark white cubes of contemporary galleries. Those rooms housing pre-19th century European paintings have been hung in the old "salon style", with the walls covered by paintings hung directly above and next to one another, rather than spaced apart in single rows.
Temporary and traveling shows are also regularly featured. The most popular of these in recent years were Renoir's Women—featuring more than 30 works by the Impressionist master—and an exhibit of Dale Chihuly's glass sculptures, in which the massive, chaotic forms were installed in the midst of the traditional painting galleries.
The Museum also features an outdoor sculpture gallery, a cafe, and "Eye Spy: Adventures in Art", an interactive exhibit tailored towards educating children.
The museum launched a massive reconstruction and expansion in 2007. It began a fundraising campaign with a goal of $80 million. Part of the funds would be placed in the museum's endowment with the remainder used for expansion and renovations. The plan included constructing a parking garage and increasing the facility too. The first phase opened January 1, 2011, after 13-months of construction. The $6.9 million project consisted primarily of renovations to the existing building. The auditorium received new lighting and sound systems and new seating. An 18,000 sq ft (1,700 m2) Center for Creativity that includes gathering spaces and places for workshops that allow visitors to engage in hands-on activities.
The museum is in the planning stages of the next phase which will be the $30 million expansion that is expected to take three-years to complete.