Cleveland Institute of Art’s transfigured campus is worth celebrating… and the public is invited


After more than a decade of research, planning, designing, and fundraising, Cleveland Institute of Art is unifying its long-divided campus, and the whole region is invited to help celebrate.

It’s an overnight success, ten years in the making,” quipped CIA President Grafton Nunes as he led a group of guests on a recent tour of the new facility on Euclid Avenue. Like previous visitors, these guests were impressed.

They should be. As Nunes told them, “CIA has created one of the nation’s finest campuses for learning about, making, and exhibiting art and design. This campus holds tremendous promise for our future.”

A Brief History of Unification

The college was founded in 1882, and in late summer 1956, CIA held its first classes in its George Gund Building at 11141 East Boulevard, across the street from the Cleveland Museum of Art. Named for then-president of the board George Gund II, the building was too small to accommodate the growing college by 1976, when CIA began leasing additional space in a historic factory at 11610 Euclid Avenue.

Ford Motor Company completed construction of this factory in 1915 for use as a Model T assembly plant, the first Detroit-owned automobile plant in Cleveland. Designed by the renowned Detroit architectural firm Albert Kahn and Associates, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. CIA bought the facility in 1981 and in 1988 named it the Joseph McCullough Center for the Visual Arts in honor of the 1948 CIA graduate who was college president from 1954-1988.

So from 1976 through the academic year that just concluded, CIA operated on a split campus. And for most of that time, the trek between the two buildings included crossing a big, crumbling asphalt parking lot sarcastically known as The Beach.

A Whole New Neighborhood

Enter MRN, Ltd., the development company that brought Cleveland’s East Fourth Street to life. MRN built the new Uptown development along Euclid Avenue, east of Mayfield Road. It includes restaurants, a grocery store, shops, apartments, and CIA’s new freshman residence hall. The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland built its gem-shaped building, which serves as the western anchor of Uptown. And in December 2014, CIA completed major construction of its new George Gund Building – adjoined to the recently renovated McCullough building – as the eastern anchor of Uptown.

Because all these organizations were able to work together, a whole new neighborhood is born within Cleveland’s University Circle,” said Nunes. He noted that Case Western Reserve University owns and developed the landscaped public plaza surrounding MOCA, named Toby’s Plaza, for philanthropist Toby Devan Lewis.

The transformation of the neighborhood caught the attention of The Rudy Bruner Foundation, which has nominated Uptown, and four other developments from across the country, for the 2015 Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence.

It’s a very big deal,” said Nunes. “We have education, culture, entertainment, retail, residences, and restaurants all in eleven acres of interesting architecture and pedestrian friendly design and we’re getting national recognition for it.”

The Move Continues

In May, CIA held its final classes and closed its final public exhibition in its East Boulevard building. The college’s library is being dismantled and its 50,000 items are being shipped from that building this summer. The lone hold-out is the Cinematheque, which will continue showing films in the building’s Russell B. Aitken Auditorium until July 30.

CIA is selling the East Boulevard building and grounds to Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Museum of Art.

By August, all CIA operations – gallery, Cinematheque, Continuing Education, library, and all undergraduate majors and services – will coexist in the new complex.

For the first time in almost 40 years, all CIA students will be learning together, on one campus, in new and renovated facilities that are unparalleled,” said Nunes. “The complex was designed to ensure that students of diverse majors would see one another’s work and inspire one another. Students in the applied arts will share a wood shop and computer labs with students in the fine arts. There will be even more symbiosis than ever.”

Time to Celebrate

To celebrate the transformation, CIA invites the public to a full spectrum of events. In fact, the college has named its series of events Spectrum CIA.

Spectrum CIA enables us to showcase the ever-expanding range of opportunities the Institute is creating for its students, our community, and partners around the world,” said CIA board member Barbara Richter. “Whether it be studios that take art and design education to a new place, cutting edge technologies that transform the Cinematheque experience, or elegant galleries that excite art enthusiasts, our new campus provides cause for celebration.”

The first public celebration, titled Lumière, is the Cinematheque premiere night on Aug. 1. This will be the first event in CIA’s brand new, state-of-the-art Peter B. Lewis Theater, which Nunes said will be “one of the most versatile movie houses in the region, equipped to project 16 mm; 35 mm; HD digital; and 4K projection, which offers four times the resolution of standard high-definition video; as well as 7.1 surround sound.”

As the Cinematheque heads into its thirtieth year at Cleveland Institute of Art under the direction of John Ewing, Nunes said he’s delighted that the year-round film program will have such a well-equipped and comfortable home.

Robert Muller photo

Robert Muller photo

At Prism, an event for CIA students, faculty, alumni and Uptown neighbors, the community will transition to the new campus officially by celebrating its final convocation in the old Gund Building and forming a colorful procession to the Euclid Avenue campus on Aug. 28.


The public is invited to CIA’s 2015 Faculty Exhibition, which runs in the new Reinberger Galleries from Aug. 28 until Oct. 10.

Chromos, the opening celebration gala, is set for Sept. 19. An evening of dinner, dancing, an auction and unexpected moments that will leave guests inspired.

Finally, Kaleidoscope will be a family-friendly art-making open house on Oct. 18. Adults and children will be able to make their own take-home art projects and experience a wide array of art and design studios and industry-leading technologies.

Lumiere, Prism, Chromos and Kaleidoscope will be of interest to different communities that are vital to CIA and its future,” said Richter, who chairs Spectrum CIA on behalf of the board. “The events are designed to highlight specific aspects of our new space and shed light on our transition in unique ways. Ultimately our goals are to engage audiences and make them an integral part of our historic transformation. This is, after all, the beginning of a new era for the Cleveland Institute of Art. Let the festivities begin!”

For information on CIA’s opening celebration events, go to

Photo caption

CIA students and faculty in the The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Atrium that connects the college’s McCullough Building to its new Gund Building.

Cleveland Institute of Art

11610 Euclid Ave.

Cleveland, Ohio 44106


Lumière Cinematheque premiere night: August 1

Prism, final convocation at the Gund Building: August 28

2015 Faculty Exhibition (new Reinberger Galleries): August 28 – Octover 10

Chromos Opening Celebration: September 19

Keleidoscope openb house: October 18