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The Short Version: Considered one of the most comprehensive museums in the world, the Cleveland Museum of Art has something for everyone – especially those who want to impress a date. Start by wandering through the galleries, discussing the wide range of art on display, and continue the conversation over a craft cocktail at Provenance, the museum’s fine dining restaurant. With programs, guided tours and more, it’s sure to be an afternoon that will leave you wanting more. And the best part is that you can return for a date any time you like because admission is free.
In dating, the saying, “You get what you pay for,” doesn’t always hold true. Sure, when I think about some memorable dates I’ve had recently, there’s often an element of being wined and dined. One man I dated loved to eat at expensive restaurants, order delicious wine, and share fancy desserts while we talked about everything from business to film to travel.
But, as much as I love wonderful dinner dates and wine, they don’t impress me.
Recently, a date and I visited an art museum in the town where we met. As we wandered around, admiring the works of local painters and sculptors, we rekindled our passion for art — and the conversation flowed from there. We discussed the different ways we viewed the world, what we valued, and what we found beautiful.
And as we strolled out the door hand in hand, I realized something else wonderful: This luxurious and relaxing afternoon was completely free. Sometimes, the best way to connect with someone doesn’t cost money, only time.
One place where a little time can stir passion between partners is the Cleveland Museum of Art. Couples can spend hours slowly taking in the more than 45,000 objects curated from the museum’s century-old collection.
“The Cleveland Museum of Art preserves, studies, and shares its outstanding collections of art from all periods and regions of the world,” said Kelley Notaro Schreiber, the Museum’s Communications and Media Relations Manager. “We generate a new understanding and appreciation among visitors while serving as a social and intellectual hub for the community.”
As one of the most comprehensive art museums in the nation, the Cleveland Museum of Art creates transformative experiences for all of its visitors.
The Cleveland Museum of Art was founded “For The Benefit of All The People Forever,” and its slogan should put visitors who may consider themselves art novices at ease. The museum’s mission to make art more accessible is one of the reasons it welcomed nearly 600,000 visitors last year.
Founded in 1913, and opened three years later, the Cleveland Museum of Art has grown its collection through purchases, gifts, and bequests from art collectors over nearly a century. That artwork fills its galleries while creating an inspiring backdrop for the museum’s educational programs held throughout the year. Visitors can view photography, modern art, European Middle Age art, sculptures, and 20th-century American art, among many other mediums, styles, and periods.
“The Cleveland Museum of Art is renowned for the quality and breadth of its collection, which includes almost 45,000 objects and spans 6,000 years of achievement in the arts,” Kelley said. “Historically, the museum has organized between 13 and 17 special exhibitions a year, including those drawn from its permanent collection or that feature international loans.”
For an insider’s perspective on the exhibits throughout the Cleveland Museum of Art, visitors are encouraged to download the free ArtLens App, which includes information about objects on view in the museum. This award-winning app gives couples more context on each piece in the museum and makes navigation easy with maps of galleries — so you won’t get lost unless you want to.
Of course, some of the exhibits are so well known you may not need the app. The famous painter Georgia O’Keeffe is the subject of an upcoming “Living Modern” exhibit, while Yayoi Kusama’s exciting and modern “Infinity Mirrors” exhibit has earned international acclaim for its unique — yet easy-to-identify — style.
But, if you’re taking a special someone, be sure to get tickets in advance for some of the special exhibits. Many of the special exhibits are free, but some do have an admission fee.
“We’re very excited for our summer blockbuster, Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Years, which celebrates the legendary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s 65-year career,” she said. “The exhibition spans the range of Kusama’s work, from her groundbreaking paintings and performances of the 1960s to her widely admired immersive installations. Visitors have the unprecedented opportunity to experience seven of Kusama’s captivating Infinity Mirror Rooms.”
Museum exhibits rotate, so don’t hesitate to visit if you see one that piques your interest. Recently, the museum has displayed works by Cambodian sculptors, German expressionists, and 20th-century French sculptor Auguste Rodin.
One of the best date night opportunities at the Cleveland Museum of Art is the MIX at CMA. This event — for patrons over 18 years old — includes art activities, gallery tours, and live entertainment — including music inspired by current exhibits.
“On the first Friday of each month, MIX highlights a different aspect of the museum and its collection and features music, themed cocktails, art-making activities, and mingling,” Kelley said. “It’s an opportunity to connect with the collection while connecting with each other.”
That chance for connection is what makes a date at the Cleveland Museum of Art such a memorable experience. It’s fun to stroll around the galleries and discuss some of the world’s best art — or get tickets to see a film, live art performance, or participate in an inspirational class together.
At the end of the evening, you can even cap off the culture with a crafted cocktail from Provenance, the museum’s fine-dining restaurant. The prix-fixe menu at the restaurant and lounge includes a brunch menu inspired by works currently on display in the galleries.
“The possibilities are endless,” Kelley said.
Of course, with the long history and breadth of displays, it’s no surprise that the Cleveland Museum of Art is looking for innovative ways to modernize and introduce its art to new visitors.
Last year, the museum released a new strategic plan called “Making Art Matter: A Strategic Framework for Our Second Century.”
“With this plan, we hope to activate the three essential elements of the museum experience: art, place, and audience. We want to create experiences that illuminate the relevance of art in today’s global society, providing a platform for learning and engagement,” Kelley said.
That mission will help keep the Cleveland Museum of Art a perfect place to connect with a date over shared passions for generations to come.