Information on:

Akron Art Museum

One South High

Museum History:

When the museum first opened its doors on February 1, 1922 as the Akron Art Institute, it was located in two borrowed rooms in the basement of the public library. The institute had severely limited financial resources but ambitious founders. They hoped that in addition to offering art instruction and exhibitions, the institute would eventually possess a permanent home and a collection of historical and modern international art.

Volunteers were the sole staff until 1924, when city support made it possible to hire a professional director. The Great Depression tightened finances and ended City funding, forcing the institute to again rely entirely on volunteers from 1931 to 1945. It functioned much of that time in borrowed spaces as an art center, offering classes and exhibiting mostly local artists. The collection was small, eclectic containing archeological artifacts and decorative as well as fine art  and composed entirely of gifts. In 1937 the institute moved into its first permanent home, an historic mansion. Just four years later, a disastrous fire destroyed the building and much of the collection, threatening the institute's existence.

It arose after World War II, phoenix like, from the ashes with a professional staff and a new focus: fine art and design. Strengthening the fine art collection became a goal, leading to the first purchases of art. To educate the general public and encourage collecting, major loan exhibitions were organized, including contemporary design shows that garnered national attention. A professional school emphasizing the design arts was established. In 1950, the institute moved back to where it had begun, the former public library, although this time it renovated and occupied the entire building.

In the mid-1960s, a re-examination of the institute's mission began. Over the next fifteen years, the institute was transformed from a school and art center into a museum. When the school closed in 1965, fine art became the institute's primary emphasis. The goal of forming a distinguished comprehensive collection was replaced with a more specialized focus, exhibiting and collecting art produced from 1850 to the present. This focus was, and remains, unique in the region. In October 1980 the importance of collecting as part of the mission was sealed by a name change. "Akron Art Institute" became "Akron Art Museum." The following year the museum moved to another renovated historic downtown structure, the 1899 old post office building it still occupies.

Over the next quarter century, the museum has continued to enrich the lives of those in Northeast Ohio and beyond through modern art. Its nationally recognized collection was documented through the publication of collection catalogues. Three acquisitions endowments were created to ensure the collection's future growth. A greatly enlarged general endowment provided increased, more stable funding, allowing the staff to undertake ambitious programs and exhibitions with national and even international impact. In 2007, its eighty-fifth year, the museum more than tripled in size with the opening of the new John S. and James L. Knight Building, which adjoins the 1899 building. Spanning three centuries, like the museum's collection, together they symbolize the museum's dual role as preserver of the past and herald of the future.


Brian G

Tuesday, March 13, 2018
What an amazing resource the AAM is. This is the perfect place to get lost in a world of gorgeously curated works. Every time I leave the museum I feel like a better person. Thanks to the staff for always bringing such great exhibits. Wonderful museum. Also, is it just me or is that building looking cooler over time?

Ryan Holland

Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018
A wonderful little museum in downtown Akron. Entrance is free for students and cheap for everyone else. It's certainly not the biggest museum, but it's perfect to fill an hour or two and get an idea about the local art scene. There is a small cafe on the ground floor with rotating coffee and tea flavors at great prices as well as beer and wine happy hour specials. The parking garage across the street is often free on the weekends.

Johmathan .B. Swift

Thursday, May 24, 2018
I was very impressed with the wide selections of quality mediums here at the Akron Art Museum . Akron is not a huge city, but to have a quality museum such as it has , says something to it's history in art and culture.So where did it come from , all of this wonderful art , if Akron isn't as big as most other cities in the US. I believe it stems from the wealth that Akron and Cleveland once had. I'm not from Akron, nor am I from North east Ohio, but I have heard about the Rubber City and I have certainly heard about the once Great Blimp's of Goodyear. It was strange when I moved here for most hadn't heard of the Akron nor the Meacon ; two Naval Blimps. I mean most hadn't even heard of The Black Keys back then .We knew who they were in CNY . Regardless , the was once great wealth here in North East Ohio, and generally that means the arts were supported either through sending their sons and daughters to art school and or by purchasing some of the local art , as well as other works. Upper Higland shows how it used to be. Take a look at Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens . That tells you that the money flowed , and that's how art was supported. You know, there's a lot of great art here , and the retires are sizing down . So here's a thing. Yes, the very best of the it will find it's way to Christie's , but not all , and it seems that the millennial's don't have the appetite for it right now. The thing is that there's more millionaire's in this country right now , and it would seem that a good percentage of them are becoming the millennial's . The thing is , the mills have more time to save . Which means they could spend . So ,their minimalistic residents just might find a little roam for some art glassware as well as other simple , but modern pieces of furniture .There's the whole buy local thing right now, correct. Things move in cycles , just as art does. Does art change the way we perceive the world, or is it just a reflection of it ? Maybe were just tableau's that have everything pre-maid , just waiting for the wearer . I like to think that art changes our societal structures. Then again, maybe that's a suit I like to play. Anyways, please visit this wonderful piece of Akron's art and history. " More than just ashes , when your dreams come true . Fire on the Mountain " .

Chaz Johnson

Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018
Honored to be in a relatively small city that supports a high quality museum in a modern structure that presents a variety of entertainment and educational programs. There is a free day supported by a local art philanthropist. There are children's programs and exceptional changing exhibits, a coffee shop and art store. Park across the street. ..

Aly Brine

Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018
The museum had great works of art. I went on a Thursday, when admission was free, which was nice but I was one of the few people there and I felt like I was being stalked through the galleries by the docents. It was kind of uncomfortable and I felt like I was being pushed through.

Akron Art Museum is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media