- Amish Country
The Akron Art Museum displays regional, national and international pieces, some dating back to 1850. Contemporary art includes works by Andy Warhol, Frank Stella as well as photography exhibits by Robert Frank and Margaret Bourke-White.
When the museum first opened in 1922 it was known as the Akron Art Institute and was housed in 2 borrowed rooms in the public library. The institute had severely limited financial resources but ambitious founders.
Volunteers staffed the new Museum until 1924 when city support enabled hiring a professional director. The Great Depression ended City funding, forcing the institute to again rely entirely on volunteers until 1945. Most of this time the museum remained in borrowed spaces, functioning as an art center that provided classes and exhibiting of local artists. The museum's collection was small and an eclectic mix of archeological artifacts, decorative art, as well as fine art.
In 1937 the institute moved into its first permanent home, a historic mansion. Just four years later, a disastrous fire destroyed the building and much of the collection, threatening the institute's existence.
With World War II, the museum remained in limbo. But after the war the museum gathered new strength and began to emphasize fine art and design. Strengthening the fine art collection became a goal, leading to the first purchases of art. To educate the general public and encourage collecting, major loan exhibitions were organized, including contemporary design shows that gained national attention. A professional school emphasizing the design arts was established. In 1950, the institute moved back to where it had begun, the former public library, although this time it renovated and occupied the entire building.
In the mid-1960s, a re-examination of the institute's mission began. Over the next 15 years, the institute was transformed from a school and art center into a full-fledged museum. When the school closed in 1965, fine art became the institute's primary emphasis.
The museum's goal of forming a distinguished comprehensive collection was replaced with a more specialized focus: exhibiting and collecting art produced from 1850 to present. This focus was, and remains, unique in the region. In October 1980 the importance of collecting as part of the mission was sealed by a name change. "Akron Art Institute" became "Akron Art Museum." The following year the museum moved to another renovated historic downtown structure, the 1899 old post office building it still occupies.
Over the next 25 years, the museum continued enriching the lives through modern art. Three acquisition endowments were created to ensure the collection's future growth. A greatly enlarged general endowment provided increased, more stable funding, allowing the staff to undertake ambitious programs and exhibitions with national and even international impact.
In 2007 the museum more than tripled in size with the opening of the new John S. and James L. Knight Building, which adjoins the 1899 building. Spanning 3 centuries, like the museum's collection, together they symbolize the museum's dual role as preserver of the past and herald of the future.
Art made from 1850 to 1950 graces the C. Blake McDowell, Jr. Galleries. On view are outstanding examples of turn-of-the-twentieth century realism and American impressionism including paintings by Childe Hassam, Frederick Frieseke, William Merritt Chase and Ohio's own Frank Duveneck. Many of these works came from the collection of the museum's co-founder Edwin C. Shaw. One gallery explores modernism and regionalism in northeast Ohio from the early 1900s to 1950, and another is devoted to William Sommer, this region's most important historical artist. The Akron Art Museum is the only place in the nation where Sommer's work is on permanent view.
Art created since 1950 is featured in the Sandra L. and Dennis B. Haslinger Family Foundation Galleries. The eclecticism of style in late 20th Century art is revealed through examples of postmodern painting and sculpture, photorealism, Pop art and works that continue surrealist and expressionist approaches. Galleries are organized thematically, an example being artists' varied representations of the human body. On view are Chuck Close's Linda, a monumental early painting; Andy Warhol's witty silkscreen painting Elvis; and Ohio carver and preacher Elijah Pierce's animated relief sculpture The Wise and Foolish Virgins and Four Other Scenes.
Akron Art Museum
One South High
Akron, Ohio 44308
Parking: is available in the High Street municipal garage directly across the street from the entrance of the Akron Art Museum. Parking is $1.00 per half-hour or $6.25 per day. Parking is free for guests entering after 6 pm on weekdays and all day on Saturday and Sunday.