Museum Wise… The Cleveland Museum of Art — What to See, Where to Go, Eat and Stay

Why is CMA so Special?

Nathaniel Olds by Jeptha Homer Wade

Nathaniel Olds by Jeptha Homer Wade

Because the first pair of snazzy sunglasses were made in Cleveland? ……Not quite.

In 1920 there were 80 millionaires in this country and 60 of them were in Cleveland (that’s why we have so many churches!) We were an industrial giant because of our location on the Erie Canal and the Great Lake’s Lake Erie. Cleveland was the Car Capital before Detroit.

Cleveland’s rich history is legendary. This portrait was painted by Jeptha Homer Wade. An aspiring young artist that needed a day job, he contracted the implementation of telegraph poles. Fascinated by the technology, he bought up the regional carriers to found Western Union.

In this portrait of Nathaniel Olds, these eye-catching green glasses are a gallery focal point. The first oil lamps invented were called Argand lamps burning whale oil. With the light they produced being 6 to 10 times brighter than candles, the concern was for potential damage to sight. (In 1929, they became Foster Grant’s and the rest is history….)

In the meantime, when the lamps were adapted to use kerosene, they became very affordable and popular…and who was in the fuel business? The Rockefellers…

The story of generations of Rockefellers and Wades, are only a few of many favorites of the founding fathers of Cleveland and the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Armor for Man and Horse with Völs-Colonna Arms, c. 1575 North Italy, 16th century

Armor for Man and Horse with Völs-Colonna Arms, c. 1575
North Italy, 16th century

The first Director of the Cleveland Museum or Art, Fred Whiting, needed to open the museum in 1916 with a collection. How would one begin to choose? With Cleveland being an industrial giant, he collaborated with the Metropolitan Museum of Art and decided on Arms and Armor, to be a source of insipiration and education with iron and steel being so near and dear to the hearts of this community. With all of the renovation, and the gallery itself  being updated through the years, the arms and armor collection has always remained in the same spot in the museum, considered to be sacred space.


The Holy Family on the Steps, 1648 Nicolas Poussin (French, 1594-1665)

The Holy Family on the Steps, 1648
Nicolas Poussin (French, 1594-1665)


World renown art critic with a story of her own, Sr. Wendy, chose CMA as one of the 5 museums she visited on her trip to the US. She considered this painting to be our “most important and the most important of her trip”. There is so much to see in the symbolism as well as color and design of this piece. It also has a very interesting story behind it’s Provenence……



Nataraja, Shiva as the Lord of Dance, 1000s South India, Tamil Nadu, Chola period (900-13th Century)




CMA has an internationally reknown Asian collection due to the dilligence of long time legendary Director Sherman Lee.


Table Fountain, c. 1320-1340 France, Paris, 14th century

Table Fountain, c. 1320-1340
France, Paris, 14th century


This object receives international attention because it is the most complete of its kind from the Middle Ages. When the conservation lab demonstrated how it would work using alcohol, the results were described as magical. It was used to circulate rose scented water for the amusement of the ultra wealthy Royals as they entertained in the early 1300’s!


Mourner from the Tomb of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy (1364-1404), 1404-1410 Claus de Werve (Netherlandish, 1380-1439)

Mourner from the Tomb of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy (1364-1404), 1404-1410
Claus de Werve (Netherlandish, 1380-1439)



These stunningly beautiful alabaster carvings have the most minute of fine detail in thier faces, expressions, clothing and posture. each is so totally unique and such a fine piece all by itself. together they inspire awe, mystery, curiosity and admiration. You can see them here or all of the rest of the 41 can be viewed at the tomb of Phillip the Bold in Lyon, Fance.



Portrait of Lisa Colt Curtis, 1898 John Singer Sargent (American, 1856-1925) oil on canvas, Framed - h:249.00 w:134.00 d canvas, Framed - h:249.00 w:134.00 d:9.50 cm (h:98 w:52 3/4 d:3 11/16 inches) Unframed - h:219.30 w:104.80 cm (h:86 5/16 w:41 1/4 inches). Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1998.168

Portrait of Lisa Colt Curtis, 1898
John Singer Sargent (American, 1856-1925)
oil on canvas,




Visitors stop me in the museum to ask if we have a John Singer Sargent? Here it is, a gift by JSS to his cousin Ralph Curtis, of the East Coast Curtis family and foundation, on the occasion of his marriage to Lisa Colt Curtis of Colt firearms fame. The setting is the Palazzo Barbaro in Venice, owned by the Curtis family and enjoyed by such famous guests as Isabella Stewart Gardner, Henry James, Vernon Lee and Monet.



The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, 16 October 1834, 1835 Joseph Mallord William Turner (British, 1775-1851)

The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, 16 October 1834, 1835
Joseph Mallord William Turner (British, 1775-1851)



Do we have a Turner?  We have THE Turner…..JMW Turner was watching the Burning of the House of Lords and Commons from one of the boats in the bottom right hand corner of this picture!



The Thinker, 1880-1881 Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917) bronze, Overall - h:182.90 w:98.40 d:142.20 cm (h:72 w:38 11/16 d:55 15/16 inches) Wt: 1,650 pounds - weighed by crane on 5/31/2006.

The Thinker, 1880-1881
Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917)
bronze, Overall – h:182.90 w:98.40 d:142.20 cm (h:72 w:38 11/16 d:55 15/16 inches) Wt: 1,650 pounds – weighed by crane on 5/31/200


Museums have copies of Rodin’s Thinker, with the stipulation that they be displayed high above the heads of the viewer suggesting Dante looking down on the chaos of his ‘Inferno’. Ironically CMA’s Thinker became part of the chaos when it was bombed in 1970 by an anti war demonstator. After much consideration and debate, Conservation decided to keep our Thinker as it is.





Giant Toothpaste Tube, 1964 Claes Thure Oldenburg (American, b. 1929) vinyl over canvas filled with kapok; wood, metal and cast plastic,

We have some great Claus Oldenburg stories in Cleveland, not the least of which is about the symbolism behind this piece. Our program with Case Western Reserve university allows us tour the museum with them regularly. I love to visit this piece with dental students. How could a tube of toothpaste have meaning? How about as a symbol of transition? Think about it!

Don’t miss a visit to GalleyOne while you are in the new atrium.  It includes an interactive, state of the art, 40 foot wall, with every object in the museum on a loop that allows you to select the objects of your choice, plug in your iPad or iPhone and download your personal custom tour…..or choose from the many options…..

You will find CMA to be one of the most beautiful, inviting, impressive museums of your travels!


Home to the Cleveland Museum of Art is a charming area called University Circle.  It includes, within sight and walking distance, the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Case Western Reserve University, University Hospitals and Severance Center, the home of the Internationally renown Cleveland Orchestra.

      The Cleveland Botanical Garden, located in the University Circle neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio, in the United States, was founded in 1930 as the Garden Center of Greater Cleveland. It was the first such organization in an American city.   ……..The centerpiece of the $50 million 2003 expansion is The Eleanor Armstrong Smith Glasshouse, an 18,000 square foot (1,700 m²) conservatory home to plant and animal life from two separate biomes, the spiny desert of Madagascar and the cloud forest of Costa Rica.

       Cleveland Museum of Natural History   Collection features over four million specimens in the fields of anthropology, archeology, astronomy, botany, geology, paleontology, zoology, and wildlife biology …

        SEVERANCE HALL     America’s Most Beautiful Concert Hall

Regarded by many music-lovers as one of the world’s most beautiful concert halls, Severance Hall opened in 1931 as the home of The Cleveland Orchestra…..A $36-million restoration and expansion of Severance Hall was completed in January 2000. The two-year Renovation Project was undertaken to restore the hall’s original detailing,

Up (East) Euclid Avenue is MOCA, Museum of Contemporary Art.


Through approximately eight exhibitions a year, all accompanied by public and education programs,

Because MOCA is a non-collecting institution – one of the relatively few such contemporary art museums in the country

Taking a right at MOCA onto Mayfield Road and going up the hill will take you into Murray Hill, Cleveland’s Little Italy, with lots of charming food and gallery choices

Up the hill from Little Italy is Lakeview Cemetery with the spirit  of Cleveland Founders including the Rockefellers, Wades, Huntingtons, Mathers, Severances, Eliot Ness,  as well as James A. Garfield, 20th President of the United States, in the James A. Garfield Monument.

      Lakeview Cemetery  

As a tourist destination, The Lake View Cemetery offers a variety of walking, bus, and self-guided tours. Among the tour topics are geology, architecture, horticulture, nature, animals, and history. In addition, there are picnic sites and hiking trails…...

Don’t miss the The Wade Chapel, designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany,  commissioned by the Wade family in honor of Jeptha Homer Wade, founder of Western Union.

North from the museum will take you to the Cleveland Cultural Gardens in Rockefeller Park, former backyard of the John D. Rockefeller family.

Hidden in Plain Sight is a short documentary about discovering the world
that’s right in front of you. It follows Luke Frazier as he reflects on the
Cleveland Cultural Gardens, the journey that led him there, and his discovery
of its beauty, history and wonder.

Favorite Places to Eat–

  • CMA docents like to walk over to the Glidden House for a glass of wine their very cozy wine bar.  We always run into someone interesting, on a visit to Cleveland for an interesting appointment or interview at Cleveland Institute of Music, or CASE or Cleveland Clinic, and the like.
  • L’Albatros located up the alley from Glidden House at 11401 Bellflower, is rated in the top 10 restaurants in the country.  We especially enjoy it when we can dine outside.  You will again be surrounded by the delightful, charming University Circle crowd.
  • Little Italy – Take a stroll and take your choice.  I don’t think you can lose!  Pasta and outdoor dining in the Summer!  What a wonderful treat!
  • Only 4 miles to Downtown on Euclid Avenue for all kinds of dining.  The Old Arcade is an historical landmark, 5th St Arcade is new and bubbling with activity.  On of my favorites is the Blue Point Grille for seafood at 7th and St. Clair.  You will be hard pressed to choose when you see the neighbor options.  Another favorite of ours is Mallorca for paella a few blocks away on West 9th.
  • Tremont – Lots of options here!  Tremont is one of Cleveland’s oldest neighborhoods listed on the National Register of Historic Places;  You will feel the neighborhood atmosphere in the air.  Lolita (900 Literary Road) – Iron Chef Winner, Michael Symon‘s bistro is one of a number of standout neighborhood eateries.

Where to Stay…..

  • Glidden House –In 1909, Francis K. Glidden, the son of the founder and president of Glidden Paint Co., built a dream home for his family in the University Circle
  •  Within walking distance with a flavor for the neighborhood, check out

      • University Circle Bed and Breakfast -#5 of 13 B&Bs / Inns in Clevelandlocated  at 1575 E. 108th St., University Circle, Cleveland, OH 44106

      • DoubleTree by Hilton The Tudor Arms Hotel #8 of 35 Hotels in Cleveland Certificate of Excellence,10660 Carnegie Avenue, Cleveland, OH 441

Cleveland Neighborhoods…… Clifton Park..Winter in the Magic Kingdom

Circa 1870 and into the early 1900s,  Euclid Ave was known as Millionaire’s Row.  The wealthy industrialist residents built summer homes in the first suburb west of Cleveland on the lake and called it Clifton Park.  They created a unique charter delegating ownership of a private shared common area called Clifton Beach.  It’s a gem.  It’s also a secret so don’t tell anyone!



Where the Rocky River meets Lake Erie….


Eliot Ness taught my husband Denny and this brother John how to swim, right here at Clifton Beach.  This was the home of Eliot Ness.  It was big, rectangular and painted black for years before it was so elegantly remodeled by the current owner.

In December of 1935, Cleveland’s Mayor Harold Burton recruited Eliot Ness to serve as the city’s new Safety Director. That very year, Cleveland was the fifth largest metro area in the nation, and was considered to be the most dangerous city in the United States. Ness went on to spearhead a campaign that nearly eliminated corruption in the police department, brought the fire department up to modern standards, and instituted the latest traffic technologies, bringing national safety awards to Cleveland by 1939. He was also faced with one of the strangest serial murder cases in all of U.S. history.

taken from:

2-2014-Clifton-Park-Winter-25664---Version-2This is our home.  It was the childhood home of Vernon and Gordon Stouffer of Stouffer foods.  My father in law played with them in this house when he was a child.  What a privilege it has been to raise our children in this sentimental space.

Legend has it that Mrs. Stouffer made her apple pies in our kitchen, took them on the trolley car downtown to their restaurant and ..the rest is history.



Hermes at CMA

DSC09764Hermes uses 75,000 uniquely ‘Hermes’ custom colors to create their legendary, heirloom quality, silk scarves, one of fashion’s most coveted accessories.

In their demonstrations at the Cleveland Museum of Art, the experts from Lyon, France talked the enthusiastic audience, of men and women alike, through the actual making of a scarf from start to the fine finish.  DSC09662 DSC09663 DSC09707 DSC09729Henri meticulously places and paints with a separate screen for each and every color in every scarf.  Each and every shade of every color couldn’t be more perfect and matching the screen to the print exactly… every time a talent.  The spectacular colors take your breath away!


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Historic Gateway Tours

The Gateway District Organization has a variety of walking tours with wonderful docents giving  fun, intersting and very informative walking tours of the legendary neighborhoods of Downtown Cleveland.  They are a summer treat and time very well spent!

Warehouse District Tour

Constantino’s Market on West 9th St.8-18-2013 W 9th 20148 - Version 2 8-17-2013 gateway 9th 20063 - Version 2 8-17-2013 gateway 9th 20066 - Version 2 DSC03054 8-18-2013 W 9th 20172 - Version 2

Mr. Levi Johnson arrived in Cleveland in 1809 when the population was only 45 people.  When he died in his 80s, he had lived in Cleveland longer than any other person in the city at that time, now having a population of 45,000.

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Meet John D. Rockefeller……in  person

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In view, kitty corner across the street, from the Rockefeller Building Is the Terminal Tower.

Built by the Van Sweringen brothers in 1928, the Terminal remained the the 4th tallest building in the world until the completion of the main building of Moscow State University in Moscow in 1953 and would continue as the tallest building in North America, outside of New York City, until the Prudential Center in Boston, Massachusetts was completed in 1964.8-17-2013 gateway 9th 20091 - Version 2

Canal Basin Park in the Flats Tour-


Mrs. Kelly from Kelly’s Island.6-23-2013 Mushrooms Gateway 18430

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Lakeview Cemetery


I was digging for the story about how John D Rockefeller buried his wife in Lakeview Cemetery in the middle of the night to avoid being served an outstanding subpoena for tax evasion in Cleveland, when I happened upon a few interesting items about our mystical Lakeview Cemetery, including the story I was looking for in Chernow’s book “The Titan”

Lake View Cemetery is located on the east side of the City of Cleveland, Ohio, along the East Cleveland and Cleveland Heights borders. There are over 104,000 people buried at Lake View, with more than 700 burials each year.

Among the thousands buried at Lake View Cemetery are Jeptha Wade, one of the cemetery’s founders and a leading contributor to the Cleveland Museum of Art; President James A. Garfield; Leonard Case, the founder of Case Institute that would become Case Western Reserve University, industialist Amassa Stone and his family; philanthropist Samuel Mather and his family; Cleveland Clinic founder, Dr. George W. Crile; Severance Hall benefactor, John L. Severance; Sherwin-Williams founder, Henry Sherwin; Karamu House founders, Russell and Rowena Jelliffe; and Thompson Products president (later to become TRW) and avid auto collector, Frederick C. Crawford, founder of the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum.


Lake View Cemetery was founded in 1869 and sits on 285 acres (1.15 km2) of land.[1]:98 The cemetery is so named because it is partially located in the “heights” area of Greater Cleveland, with a view of Lake Erie to the north. It was modeled after the great garden cemeteries of Victorian era England and France. The Italian stonemasons brought in to create the Cemetery founded the Cleveland neighborhood of Little Italy just to its southwest.

The James A. Garfield Memorial is the most prominent point of interest at Lake View Cemetery. The ornate interior features a large marble statue, stained glass, bas relief, and various historical relics from Garfield’s life and presidency. The monument also serves as a scenic observation deck and picnic area. President and Mrs. Garfield are entombed in the lower level crypt, their coffins placed side by side and visible to cemetery visitors.

The other prominent structure in the cemetery is the Wade Chapel. A small-but-magnificent chapel with Tiffany windows and elaborate Biblically-inspired mosaics on the walls, the edifice is still used for small weddings and located north and down the hill from the Garfield monument. Behind the chapel is a large pond.

The cemetery is among those profiled in the 2005 PBS documentary A Cemetery Special.


 Ormond Beach, Fla., May 23.–John D. Rockefeller Sr., who wanted to live until July 9, 1939, when he would have rounded out a century of life, died at 4:05 A.M. here today at The Casements, his Winter home, a little more than two years and a month from his cherished goal.

Death came suddenly to the founder of the great Standard Oil organization–so suddenly that none of his immediate family was with him at the end. Less than twenty-four hours before the aged philanthropist died in his sleep from sclerotic myocarditis, his son, John D. Rockefeller Jr., had been assured that there was nothing about his father’s condition to cause concern.

Known as Philanthropist

Once called the world’s richest man, Mr. Rockefeller had given more than $530,000,000 to various educational, scientific and religious institutions, thus winning for himself the right to be called the world’s greatest philanthropist.

Long since retired from active participation in business, he had given most of his great fortune to his heirs before he died, and close associates expressed doubt today that his estate, which they said was relatively small and very liquid, would amount to as much as $25,000,000.

Soon after word of Mr. Rockefeller’s death reached New York a special car was sent to Florida to bring back his body and plans were made for a simple private funeral on Wednesday from his official residence at Pocantico Hills, where he had planned to celebrate his ninety-eighth birthday next July.

Burial to Be in Cleveland

Burial will be Thursday in Lakeview Cemetery, Cleveland, where Mr. Rockefeller got his business start as a $12-a-month clerk. In accordance with his wishes he will be buried beside his wife, Laura Spelman Rockefeller, who died more than twenty years before him.

Laura Spelman Rockefeller

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Laura Celestia Spelman Rockefeller, (September 9, 1839 – March 12, 1915), (known as Cettie), was a philanthropist, the namesake of Spelman College, founded to educate black women in the South, and the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial, and the wife of John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil. Together they created the Rockefeller family dynasty.


Laura Spelman was born in Wadsworth, Ohio in 1839 to German American Harvey Buell Spelman and Lucy (Henry) Spelman, Yankees who had moved to Ohio from Massachusetts. Harvey was an abolitionist who was active in the Congregationalist Church, the Underground Railroad, and in politics. The Spelmans eventually moved to Cleveland, Ohio. In Cleveland, Cettie met John D. Rockefeller; they attended accounting classes together. She later returned to New England to attend Oread Institute, with plans to become a schoolteacher.

After returning to Ohio to teach, Spelman married Rockefeller in 1864. Following her wedding, Cettie remained active in the church (she joined Rockefeller’s congregation, the Northern Baptists) and with her family. Once the family business, Standard Oil, began to take off, she further devoted her time to philanthropy and her children.

Throughout their lives, the Rockefeller family continued to donate ten percent of their income to charity, including substantial donations to Spelman College.

Laura Spelman Rockefeller died at age 75 of a heart attack, at the family estate Kykuit in Pocantico Hills, NY.

The Rockefeller legacy

07.22.2002 | Jim Vickers | Cleveland | Cover Story

Grabowski tells a well-known tale of Rockefeller’s visit to the factory where his workers made barrels to ship kerosene. When Rockefeller noticed the employees used 22 drops of solder to seal each barrel, he asked if they could use 20 instead. When the new barrels leaked, he instructed them to use 21 drops of solder. Those barrels didn’t leak, and Rockefeller saved one drop of solder on every barrel made.

“That was the type of mentality that drove him,” says Grabowski. “I think what epitomizes the late 19th century is rationalization, order and scientific management of business. The thing Rockefeller brought to Cleveland, and to the industry in general, was a rationality and focus.”

Even after such a lengthy relationship with Cleveland, Rockefeller’s last days in Cleveland set off a bitter tax dispute with county officials.

During the winter of 1913-1914, Rockefeller lived at his Forest Hills estate on the East Side of Cleveland, tending to his ailing wife Cettie. Although he had paid taxes as an official resident of New York since the 1880s, he could not leave Cleveland by the Feb. 3 tax deadline because of his wife’s frail condition, a move that triggered rabid pursuit by county tax collectors.

“To Cuyahoga County, this obviously looked like manna from heaven,” says Grabowski. “Here’s the world’s richest man and he’s suddenly liable for personal property taxes. They went after him with a vengeance. When Cettie died, he left and he never returned after that, except to be buried.”

The dogged persistence with which county officials trailed Rockefeller during the tax dispute, which was ruled illegal by the courts, seemed to taint Rockefeller’s relationship with Cleveland. In Ron Chernow’s voluminous biography “Titan,” he cites an archived interview in which Rockefeller compared his new home of New York to his hometown: “New York has always treated me more fairly than Cleveland, much more.”

But he also admitted that despite this tainted mark, Cleveland offered one business benefit few other commerce centers at the time could — access to different transportation networks. For a business that moved its product in large volume, Rockefeller found Cleveland strategically located. He often played the railways against the waterways, with a low transportation price his valuable prize.

 Titan – The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow

“Because pf the virulent tax dispute, Rockefeller could not bury Cettie in the family plot in Cleveland without facing a subpoena and had to postpone the burial.  To the press he contrived a saccharine story that he could not bear to part with her remains.  “I want to keep her with me as long as I can.” For four and a half months, he stored her casket in the green granite mausoleum of the Archbold family at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Tarrytown which was patrolled at all hours by two armed guards.

The casket was finally moved to Cleveland under top-secret conditions.  During a pelting rain and hail storm, two guards were sent down to the cemetery gate to pick up some decorative plants for the vault-a diversionary tactic that distracted them for 25 minutes.  While they were away a local undertaker named Vanderbilt drove up to the vault, peeled away the flower covered pall, removed Cettie’s casket from its container, substituted a new empty casket, then replaced the pall and flowers.  Once he had executed the switch, Vanderbilt drove out the front gate with Cettie’s coffin hidden inside a rough, plain, unmarked box.  Driving to the Harmon Station of the Lakeshore Railroad, the undertaker loaded the box