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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CLEVELAND INSTITUTE OF ART - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

The CLEVELAND INSTITUTE OF ART, a professional school for artists, began as the Western Reserve School of Design for Women, founded in the fall of 1882 in the home of Sarah M. Kimball, 1265 Euclid Ave. Within weeks classes had grown and were moved to quarters in the Case Block. Although its title implied otherwise, the Western Reserve School of Design for Women did have a few male students. From its inception the school sought to train students for careers; it represents the convergence of the interest in decorative art and crafts in the late 19th century and the need for trained designers in industry. In 1891 the co-educational school was renamed the Cleveland School of Art. In 1892, after an unsuccessful attempt to merge the school into Western Reserve Univ. (in which much of the "practical" instruction was dropped in favor of a more "academic" discipline), the school reverted to being an independent institution. Under the direction of GEORGIE LEIGHTON NORTON† (1892-1922), a new building was constructed in 1904 on Juniper and Magnolia Dr., in UNIVERSITY CIRCLE. By 1913 an endowment had been established, securing the future of the institution. The school's tradition of summer and weekend art classes for adults and children began in 1917 and continues in the 1990s.

While the Depression and World War II significantly reduced enrollment, various programs were added under director Henry Hunt Clark (1930-46) to keep the school viable. It played a part in the WPA Federal Art Project in the Cleveland area, and during the war such studies as mapmaking and medical drawing were incorporated alongside the usual courses in drawing, painting, and sculpture. By the early 1950s, enrollment climbed as industry again sought trained designers and craftspersons. In 1955-56 a new building in the International style was built on the corner of East Blvd. and Bellflower Rd., providing classrooms, a library, galleries, studios, and an auditorium. As its standards had risen through the years, the school was renamed the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1948. The bachelor of fine arts degree was first offered in 1947, and by 1969 the program was a 5-year-long curriculum providing an academic as well as professional education. Joseph McCullough became the first alumnus to be appointed president (1955-90). One of his early objectives was expansion of the curriculum to include more academic studies in order to qualify for regional accreditation. Humanities and social science classes were added to complement the studio courses. In the mid-1970s enrollment was halted at 525. In 1981 the former Ford assembly plant on Euclid Ave. east of Mayfield Rd. was purchased and converted into the McCullough Center for Visual Arts, named for Joseph McCullough. Students specializing in painting, graphic design, sculpture, fiber, metal, and 11 other media receive the B.F.A. degree.

Wixom, Nancy Coe. Cleveland Institute of Art: The First Hundred Years, 1882-1992, (1993).

Witchey, Holly Rarick. Fine Arts in Cleveland: An Illustrated History (1994).

Last Modified: 14 Jul 1997 11:14:11 AM

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