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About . History . Overview 

History

Celebrating over 130 years

Every year Cleveland Institute of Art builds on to an internationally recognized heritage of excellence and innovation that dates back to 1882.

That year the school was chartered as the Western Reserve School of Design for Women. The school’s first name reflects the forward-thinking views of founder Sarah Kimball, who opened her home for the first class meetings, attended by just one teacher and one student. Open to male and female students alike, the Cleveland School of Art, as the school soon became known, blossomed under the influence of a dedicated and talented faculty, whose prize-winning art and award-winning commercial designs are known collectively, even today, as “the Cleveland School.”

Over time the school’s success prompted changes in facilities—from Mrs. Kimball’s sitting room to the attic of Old Cleveland City Hall, and then to the late Horace Kelley’s mansion on present-day E. 55th. In 1905 CIA built a brick Italianate building in University Circle (razed as part of a 1960s site redevelopment), which boasted a grand exhibition gallery predating the Cleveland Museum of Art by a decade.

In 1949 the school became officially known as the Cleveland Institute of Art, and in 1956, classes moved into their new building at 11141 East Boulevard, named for George Gund, who served as CIA Board President for 24 years.

In 1981 the Institute purchased a former Ford assembly plant, now listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Named the Joseph McCullough Center for the Visual Arts (JMC) after the late artist and CIA alumnus who served as CIA president for 33 years, the building was extensively renovated in 2010 for classroom and studio use. As part of the college’s Campus Unification Project, CIA is in the process of constructing a new academic and administrative building that will be named for George Gund II and adjoined to the JMC. Construction is expected to be complete in late 2015.

Mission

To nurture the intellectual, artistic, and professional development of students and community members through rigorous visual arts and design education.

Vision

To advance culture, community and global quality of life.

History Project

Learn more about CIA's historic alumni and their groundbreaking careers:

Charles Burchfield

Edris Eckhardt

Clara Wolcott Driscoll

Charles Sallée

Viktor Schreckengost

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Support CIA

Show the world creativity matters: make a gift to the annual fund.

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SPECTRUM CIA 2015

Save the date. Four celebration events.

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Cores + Connections

Creating. Connecting. Building better futures.