Grand Tour

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Cincinnati has museums enough for a whole season of gallery hopping. But if you’re in the mood for an impressive out-of-town exhibit, many of the region’s top art museums are displaying their hottest shows of the year—just in time for cold-weather crowds.

Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland
A giant block of black stainless steel stands in Cleveland’s University Circle, mirroring the movements of local art enthusiasts as they shuffle in and out of the shiny structure. Newly opened last October (after moving from its former home a few blocks away), the solid-black Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland is a tourist attraction unto itself, and is the first building in the United States to be designed by prestigious London-based architect Farshid Moussavi.

The museum’s inaugural exhibit, Inside Out and From the Ground Up (through February 24), invites patrons to play with space and perspective. From vast paintings to abstract physical structures to experimental film, it showcases the museum structure as both a stage for contemporary art and as a subject. A cornerstone of the exhibit is the sculpture Carambóxido, by Henrique Oliveira, which looks like a massive ruptured tree root bursting forth from the wall. Constructed from PVC, plywood, foam, and scrap metal, it allows museum visitors to experience the sights and smells of materials like oil, metal, and rubber—all of which are meant to represent Cleveland industry. A tip for Cincinnati travelers: Consider visiting on the first Saturday of the month when admission is free. Not bad for a few hours of visual vacation.

Toledo Museum of Art
Founded more than 100 years ago, the sprawling Toledo Museum of Art fills six different buildings with its collection. The unique design of each building represents a specific era of architecture, from the Greek-style marble-columned Main Museum to the Art Deco Professional Arts Building. The Glass Pavilion, which houses the museum’s collection of art glass—from ancient Near Eastern goddess pendants to Victorian-era cut glass—is itself made of more than 360 panels of solid glass, and received Travel & Leisure’s Design Award for Best Museum in 2007. More than 30,000 works of art are on display within the museum’s buildings, including American and European paintings, ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian works, Asian and African pieces, and medieval art.

Though its collection extends back to some of the earliest moments of human history, the TMA doesn’t forsake more contemporary works of art. The exhibition Made in Hollywood: Photographs from the John Kobal Foundation (through January 20) displays images from cinema’s golden age. These prints, plastered on newspapers, magazines, and movie posters, helped launch the career of many an award-winning actor. The exhibit showcases more than 90 photographs by the most sought-after shutterbugs in Hollywood from 1920 to 1960, and depicts silver-screen icons such as Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, and Humphrey Bogart.

Indianapolis Museum of Art
Whether you come to wander past the 50,000 works of art on display or walk the 100 acres of woodland, the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) is well worth a weekend trip. Suffragette May Wright Sewell and her Art Association of Indianapolis organized the inaugural exhibit in November 1883, and today it stands as the fifth largest general art museum in the country. The collection features art from a range of cultures and periods, and the accompanying Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park provides patrons with an urban oasis of woodlands, wetlands, lakes, and meadows—all interspersed with large-scale modern sculptures.

Fashion is usually confined to catwalks, but you can see it celebrated in the Gerald and Dorit Paul Galleries of the IMA. The exhibit An American Legacy: Norell, Blass, Halston, and Sprouse (through January 27) surveys the careers of Indiana designers Norman Norell, Bill Blass, Stephen Sprouse, and Roy Halston Frowick. Garments on display survey 50 years of fashion, from flower print frocks to elegant evening wear.

Andy Warhol Museum
Andy Warhol’s first formal training was through free classes at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh. The city pays homage to the Pennsylvania native at The Andy Warhol Museum, located in the North Shore neighborhood. Established in 1994, The Warhol is the largest museum in the U.S. dedicated to an individual artist. Photographs, videos, sculptures, and prints from each of Warhol’s artistic periods plaster the museum walls, ranging from his work as a student to his more mature paintings of such celebrities as Liz Taylor and Elvis Presley. If you hurry, you may make it in time to see how Warhol toyed with tabloids in Warhol: Headlines (through January 6). The exhibition explores the artist’s “obsession with the sensational side of contemporary news media.”

Originally published in the January 2013 issue.

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