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Art in Ohio

Courtesy Dayton Art Institute

Move over New York, Chicago and L.A. When it comes to art museums, Ohio is a feast for the eyes, with museums full of priceless art and cool event spaces.

Dayton Art Institute
Cloisters have become one of the Dayton Art Institute’s most popular event spaces. The institute has two cloisters, architectural features found in Italian villas.

“A cloister is an enclosed garden, essentially,” said Diane Haskell, manager of museum services.

Several years ago, the museum put a glass dome over its hexagon-shaped Shaw Gothic Cloister, creating an event space that can be used year-round. A number of groups use the space, especially for special dinners or receptions. For example, when a local hospital’s staff gathered at the museum, attendees met in its 500-seat Renaissance auditorium and then moved into the cloister for their evening meal.

“PNC Bank comes to the Art Institute regularly for meetings, functions and dinners,” said Haskell. “Proliance Energy also holds meetings here.”

The Shaw cloister seats about 250 people and more than twice that for cocktails.

The smaller Hale cloister is an enclosed garden of boxwoods and small trees, with a covered gallery around its edge and a tiered stone fountain in its middle. It accommodates 125 for dinners.

The museum also has a 478-seat theater and several galleries and lobbies for receptions. It recently combined its cafe, gift shop and private dining room into one space, now marketed as a community gathering place and also available for groups.

“The museum is a beautiful venue. You sit in gorgeous rooms,” said Haskell. “The auditorium was built in 1930 and has an unbelievable skylight effect on the ceiling with medieval tapestries on either side. The visual appeal takes you away from the sterile business world.”


Akron Art Museum
Old and new are also blended artfully at the Akron Art Museum. The museum’s late-19th-century brick and limestone structure has been melded with a 21st-century addition of glass and steel in downtown Akron.

The modern addition won a 2005 American Architecture Award, as it tripled the space of the original museum.

After hours, the museum’s grand lobby, all glass and steel and seemingly stacked at angles, often makes way for dinners and receptions. In good weather, guests can spill out to a covered terrace; the adjacent museum cafe can also be booked.

For presentations or speeches, the museum offers an auditorium with stadium seating for 159.

“We have had corporations that had to plan their event from a distance, such as from New York City, and they didn’t know exactly what they’d walk into,” said Sheri Stallsmith, special events manager. “On our end, for that event, we put it all together for them. We helped with planning and made many arrangements. They were thrilled with how the event went off; great attendance and everything.”

Stallsmith said guests can experience amazing architecture and art with every step.

“The building is unusual, so visual. It is modern with a lot of glass and steel,” said Stallsmith. “You don’t need many decorations because the building itself is spectacular. It gives the guests much to look at.”