Cincinnati Art Museum Archives

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Cincinnati Art Museum Archives

Cincinnati Art Museum

Location: Cincinnati, OH


The Cincinnati Art Museum's archives are a unique collection of materials spanning almost 150 years of art history in Cincinnati and beyond. With records relating not only to the Art Museum itself, but also to the Art Academy of Cincinnati and to many locally and nationally important artists, the archives are an exceptional resource for researchers, authors, educators and students.

The largest group of records in the archives originates from the Art Museum itself. This collection is extremely valuable for the Art Museum's own institutional memory as well as for the wider study of art history. It provides a fascinating insight into the operation and evolution of an early American art museum, and is a unique resource through which to explore the development of Cincinnati as an art center. Amongst the highlights of the collection are the records of the Art Museum's early directors, including hundreds of letters to and from important American artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as an extensive photographic archive chronicling the Museum's history.

The second major component of the archives is material from the Art Academy of Cincinnati. Originally founded in the 1860s as the McMicken School of Drawing and Design (and one of the first schools of the University of Cincinnati), it eventually came under control of the Cincinnati Museum Association (the body that also governs the Museum) in 1884. The collection includes extensive student and faculty records, of particular value to researchers since many important local artists, such as Frank Duveneck and Charley Harper, studied and taught at the Academy.

The final component of the Art Museum's archives is an assemblage of material relating to numerous local artists and art organizations. Each artist or organization has their own file, typically including items such as newspaper clippings, exhibition catalogs and announcements, plus a variety of other ephemera gathered over the decades. As well as these collected materials, the archives also holds the original records of a number of local artists and art organizations.