Traveler: Columbus Earns National Buzz for Art Scene

With a new expansion to its main museum, Columbus, Ohio, is for art lovers.
Franklin Park Conservatory

Ohio’s capital was already getting serious national buzz for its creative appeal when the Columbus Museum of Art completed a major expansion last year. The new contemporary-focused Margaret M. Walter Wing added nearly 22,000 square feet of gallery space, and houses four recent acquisitions to the permanent collection, including photographs by Carissa Rodriguez—the first of the artist’s to be acquired by an American museum—and a sound sculpture by Susan Philipsz, which sits in a new outdoor art garden.

At Ohio State—alma mater of Pop Art superstar Roy Lichtenstein—the Wexner Center for the Arts hosts emerging New York artists, screens edgy film debuts, and puts on provocative exhibitions. “The Wex” is currently the only Midwest stop for the show Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957 (through 2016), with more than 200 works by figures from the legendary institution such as Robert Rauschenberg and Buckminster Fuller. OSU’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum holds the world’s largest archive of such material, and highlights are currently on display in a Treasures from the Collections exhibition (through October 23).

The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens displays several brightly colored pieces by famous glass artist Dale Chihuly against a lush backdrop of exotic plants, and the facility’s Hot Shop offers glassblowing workshops and demonstrations (by artists whose finished products are available for purchase). The Short North Arts District has numerous permanent and temporary murals, and the city organizes self-guided Art Walks there and in several other areas around town. Franklinton, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, is home to a nascent (if still slightly gritty) arts scene and 400 West Rich, an enclave of studios, co-op spaces, and artsy vendors in a former bath-fixture factory.



The fruit-and-herb-studded baked wreaths at Flowers & Bread are works of art in their own right.


The Hilton Columbus Downtown shows original artwork with Columbus ties, while the pieces on display at Le Méridien Columbus, the Joseph come from a local private contemporary collection.