The New Columbus Museum of Art: Navigating the Museum

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

We'll guide you to some of the new features of the museum, but we're not giving away the really good stuff.

1Margaret M. Walter Wing

On the second floor, find contemporary art from the museum's permanent collection. It's never had a dedicated home before, so you might be surprised to see how much the museum has in its collection. Thirty-three new artworks are debuting when the expanded museum opens, many of them exhibited here. "There are pieces we own that people don't know we have," says Nannette Maciejunes, the museum's executive director.

The first floor is reserved for temporary and traveling exhibitions. Starting in October, this space will play host to Keeping Pace, a show about Pace Columbus gallery's effect on contemporary art collection and appreciation in Columbus, as well as Imperfections by Chance, a retrospective of Paul Feeley. The Feeley show actually travels upstairs and takes up some exhibition space on the second floor, demonstrating the flexibility of the new building. Fun fact: All the interior walls you see here are temporary. The building was designed as a two-story uninterrupted bar of space, with infinite possibilities for carving out smaller galleries.

2The "Cinematic Facade"

Become part of the museum's inside-out philosophy by standing at the giant windows on the second floor. Looking outward, you can observe the hustle and bustle of Broad Street traffic. And, from the street or sidewalk, folks can look inward to the museum. The glass, and the impression that you're observing and observed, is key to contemporary ideas of museums. "It's basically a two-directional experience. If I'm a passerby on Broad or Gay, the 1931 building is essentially a large, sort of inwardly focused structure. It doesn't really express itself outwardly," architect Michael Bongiorno said in a 2013 interview with Columbus Monthly. "By having these large glass walls express themselves to thoroughfares, we're allowing people to experience what's going on in the building as it's operating. You can see people walking through, interacting with the artwork. It's so important to have a connection to the outdoors in some way."

3Museum store

Double the size of the previous space, this bright, white store will be filled with souvenirs, books, art objects, kids' stuff and plenty of eye candy. No time to visit the galleries? It's easy to pop into the store-no admission required-from the parking lot for that last-minute gift. Pro tip: Clerks will wrap your gifts for free.

4The "Shard of Light"

Another Bongiorno-coined term, this is the glass-and-light filled connector space that links the 1931 building to the new one. Here, you'll buy tickets for admission, enter the store or restaurant, reach the Center for Creativity, access galleries in both buildings or just perch on a bench and look around for a while. Pro tip: Be sure to lift your eyes all the way to the ceiling, where you'll see a museum favorite in a whole new light.

5Schokko Art Cafe

The Cameron Mitchell restaurant boasts an open kitchen and a wall of glass doors that slide open to the patio and the sculpture garden beyond. Eat in or find something in the grab-and-go case. Sit inside or outside. Have a glass of wine with lunch. Just don't skip dessert-chocolate is the star.

6Event space

If the museum was a popular wedding and event venue before, it's sure to be even more in demand now, with this gorgeous room overlooking the sculpture garden. That new room alone can seat 380 people. Using all the available event space, the museum can host a sit-down dinner for just short of 600. Pro tip: When the interior doors are open, visitors have an uninterrupted view through Derby Court and to Broad Street on the other side of the building, making for quite a dramatic entrance.

7Sculpture garden and "Study for Strings"

The sculpture garden is divided into three spaces-Patty's Garden, with cafe seating and a central sculpture that incorporates a serene fountain, a flexible-use grassy space and a path of birch trees that will be home to Susan Philipsz's "Study for Strings," the first sound sculpture in the museum's collection. "Study for Strings," previously exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, is based on a composition of the same name by Jewish composer Pavel Haas, who wrote it in 1943 while in a concentration camp. The music later was used as Nazi propaganda.

8Beaton Hall

This historic Spanish-style building was once home to the Columbus Art School, what we know today as the Columbus College of Art and Design. The school and museum, once named the Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, were affiliated for decades. After CCAD moved out, the museum's administrative offices moved in. Beaton Hall is now connected via a covered breezeway to the museum addition, making it even easier for curators and other staff to come and go.

9Loading dock

Merely a utilitarian piece of infrastructure? Hardly. Think of it as a bargaining chip. The new loading dock can completely enclose a truck, which can acclimate to interior temperatures and other environmental factors before precious artworks are unloaded. This addition will help the museum secure high-profile traveling shows, many of which require art be treated under exacting conditions.