Saturday, May 17, 2003

Ohio Moments

City's art museum opened 117 years ago

On May 17, 1886, about 5,000 Cincinnatians turned out for the unveiling of the Cincinnati Art Museum.

Cincinnati had enjoyed great commercial success in the 1800s - and acquired the nickname Porkopolis. Desiring to balance the city's commercial reputation with a bit of culture, some local women conceived the idea of building an art museum. They formed the Women's Art Museum Association in 1877, and asked nine prominent businessmen to handle the financial arrangements.

In 1880, flour mill operator Charles A. West offered $150,000 for such a museum if the sum could be matched by other citizens. The challenge was met within one month. The following year, the women's association was renamed the Cincinnati Art Museum Association. West donated an additional $150,000 for an endowment, and the museum - a Romanesque structure designed by James McLaughlin - was built on 20 acres in Eden Park donated by the city.

Rebecca Goodman

E-mail or call 768-8361.

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