Rock Rulings: Ohio Supreme Court's Music Exhibit

Chris Gaitten
The first display case for I Fought the Law sits just below “Dethroning the Monarchy,” one of six panels in Ron Anderson's History of the Rule of Law mural series.

The mammoth gavel sculpture outside the Supreme Court of Ohio is one of the best-known public art displays in Columbus, but it's just a hint of the artistic treasures inside. Past the metal detectors, the state troopers and the courtroom itself, the high-ceilinged neoclassical building has become home to hundreds of works, many by acclaimed Ohio artists.

Sara Stiffler, the court's manager of civic education and outreach, credits that trove to former Chief Justice Thomas Moyer, an ardent supporter of art in public buildings. Moyer, who died in 2010, was also responsible for the building's renovation before the court moved there from Rhodes Tower in 2004.

“When the chief [picked] this building, I thought, ‘You're bonkers. This building is falling apart, and we could've just had a new building built,'” says Michael Bradshaw, an assistant in the court's library. “But he was absolutely right because then they restored it, and it's like wow—it's like working in a beautiful museum.”

Bradshaw oversees one section of the judicial center's art: a law-themed multimedia exhibit on the 11th floor in the law library. The display changes several times per year, and the exhibition that concluded on Sept. 7,I Fought the Law, highlighted how legal concerns shape the music industry, from obscenity to sampling to copyright protection.

The judicial building (65 S. Front St.) and the law library are open to the public weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Guided tours are available, and walk-ins are welcome; groups of more than eight are encouraged to call ahead, 614-387-9000.