The city of Cincinnati boasts a history full of art and culture that extends decades into the past. Currently, there are over 60 museums and historic sites located in the Greater Cincinnati area that are open to the public on a daily basis. Each museum is unique ranging from the American Sign Museum to the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. Many of these museums are considered a “Must See” when visitors stop in Cincinnati. The wide variation of historic sites and informational museums has offered locals and tourists endless stories and exhibits to discover.
Recently renovated and located on Walnut Street across from the Aronoff Center for the Arts is the 21c Museum Hotel. The 21c Museum Hotel is a boutique hotel that offers 156 guest rooms, a contemporary art museum and a cultural civic center. It’s located in the 100-year-old Metropole building that has been recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There is 8,000 square feet of exhibition space that is open to the public free of charge 24 hours a day and seven days a week. The Hotel also offers meeting and event space available for corporate and social events. Located within the building is the Metropole restaurant that was opened by Chef Michael Paley. The restaurant offers “a contemporary take on old world fireplace cooking techniques”. There are over ten current exhibitions that contribute to the aesthetics and functionality of the building itself. One of the exhibits is incorporated into the elevator cab that gives guests an “interactive experience that moves through space and time.”
The Contemporary Arts Center is known for showcasing “art of the last five minutes.” The buildings architecture gained international praise. It was founded as the Modern Art Society in 1939 and has changed with time since. The Contemporary Arts Center became one of the first showcases for contemporary art and new artistic movements. The exhibitions are focused around recent developments in architecture, sculpture, painting, photography, performance art and new media. The Center is located next to the 21c Museum Hotel on Walnut and Sixth Street downtown. Currently, there are three exhibitions available to the public for viewing. They also host programs where families, schools and individuals can come and learn more about evolving artwork in the community. Similarly to 21c Museum Hotel, the Contemporary Arts Center has event space available for rent to host parties, wedding receptions, fundraisers and many other events.
The Cincinnati Art Museum located on Eden Park Drive was ranked the “Top Art Museum for Families” by Parenting Magazine. There is free admission every day and the museum is an excellent place for public tours and educational activities for people of all ages. The Cincinnati Art Museum showcases over 60,000 objects that come from a range of 6,000 years in history. The art is from all over the world including ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome as well as Native American and African art galleries of furniture, glass, ceramics, costumes and folk art. Some of the artwork comes from historic European artists such as Titian and Van Dyck. Also available for show are works from the 19th and 20th century by Monet and Picasso.
Another popular ‘must see’ museum is the American Sign Museum located in the Camp Washington area. This museum covers a full range of the history of American signage. Guests can take a guided tour or a private tour through time while viewing the most popular signage from each decade. The tour begins with “fancy gold leaf glass signs” that were popular at the beginning of the last century and moves through neon sign popularity in the 1940’s and 50’s. Through the tour, guests can stop at the onsite neon shop where they can learn how neon signs are created. Tours range from $10.00 – $15.00.
Located symbolically on the Ohio River is the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. The Center presents the “worlds first museum quality permanent exhibition on the subjects of modern day slavery and human trafficking.” The museum consists of three buildings that symbolize the three cornerstones of freedom – perseverance, cooperation and courage. In the 1800’s, Cincinnati served as a major hub to those seeking freedom from slavery in the Underground Railroad. Today, the building itself symbolizes many aspect of the long journey to freedom that slaves faced years ago. Recently, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center was included in Kyle McCarthy’s “The Ten Best Family Destinations for Learning Vacations.” Many schools from around the Midwest make educational trips to the Center. The museum is one of the only museums to offer historic exhibits as well as insight and awareness of slavery around the world today. Tickets range from $8.00 for children to $12.00 for adults. Currently, there are over five exhibits available to the public for viewing.
There are many more museums and historic sites located throughout Cincinnati and the surrounding areas than those listed above. Each site has a different story to tell of art, history and culture. For those interested in Cincinnati’s history and culture that helped shaped the city, there are plenty of sites to visit for a decent price that make for a good day or weekend trip.