The Cincinnati Art Museum’s commitment to engaging with its community will soon be physically represented with a new project, the Art Climb.
With this project, the museum seeks to engage with its surrounding historic, vital neighborhoods, including Walnut Hills. This effort to activate the museum grounds will allow new and broader access through casual and recreational art interactions outside the walls of the museum.
The Art Climb includes a staircase from the sidewalk near the intersection of Eden Park Drive and Gilbert Avenue and leading up to the front museum entrance. This project will open up the museum grounds, connect the museum to its neighbors and provide a space to incorporate outdoor artworks.
Multiple flights of steps and landings will span the hill at the northern corner of the museums grounds, around 450 feet from the street to the parking lot.
Art Climb will incorporate a lighting component that will guide visitors up toward the museum. At the top of the staircase, visitors will have an opportunity to access a large pavilion where they can enjoy a view of the city. A Cincinnati Metro bus stop is located near the start of the staircases.
Connecting with the Walnut Hills community was a priority identified when the museum learned about the needs, wants and challenges of those we serve and seek to serve while interviewing and surveying thousands during the development of the museum’s 2016–2021 strategic plan. Since January 2016, the museum held conversations with the Mayor’s Office of the City of Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Park Board and leadership, and Walnut Hills and Mount Adams representatives regarding the plan, and fundraising strategies began to develop in conjunction with the ideas laid out in the strategic plan.
In October 2018, the Cincinnati Art Museum received $5 million in New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) for this Art Climb. With this support, tax credit assistance, and fundraising commitments, the museum expects the project to serve a minimum of 200,000 visitors annually.
Construction will begin in June, to be completed in late 2019, and dedicated to the public in early 2020. The Cincinnati Art Museum will remain open during the construction.
The museum worked with Emersion Design and Human Nature for architecture and landscape design for this project. Effort has been taken to retain as many trees as possible in the construction of the Art Climb. Invasive honeysuckle and diseased ash trees are being removed. In the last month, Turner Construction was selected as the construction firm.
Like the traditional steps leading to some of the most famous museums around the world, this grand staircase will become a signature gateway from the museum to the nearby community. It will allow better access to street parking along Eden Park Drive, and provide an outdoor space for visitors to engage with art and each other.
“The Cincinnati Art Museum’s strategic plan seeks to answer not only what we must be, given our public charter, but what it hopes to be in context of the best, most forward-looking and transformative arts institutions in the nation,” said Cameron Kitchin, Cincinnati Art Museum’s Louis and Louise Dieterle Nippert Director.
The Cincinnati Art Museum serves as one of five organizations representing the Walnut Hills community in a city-wide neighborhood development program led by ArtsWave, the funder of the region’s arts. It uses the Creative Placemaking process to identify and solve community challenges. The Art Climb project will help bring these creative ideas to life