Columbus has been quietly racking up the accolades and it's time we stop keeping it to ourselves. In our series, Behind the Buzz, we’re unveiling the people, places and experiences that make our city worthy and deserving of all the hype. Keep reading and you'll be asking yourself, "Can all of this exist in one city?" Yes, Columbus.

You may have heard that Columbus was ranked among the top six cities in the U.S. for immersive art by USAToday 10Best. To share some insight into what makes Columbus a city for the arts, we interviewed Brooke Minto, Executive Director and CEO at the Columbus Museum of Art.


Brooke Minto Executive Director at CMA

Brooke Minto, Executive Director and CEO at the Columbus Musem of Art.


What’s something about the Columbus art scene that people may find surprising?

I was born and raised in New York, so I was pleasantly surprised and delighted to learn about the depth and breadth of Columbus’ art scene. The creative energy is palpable in almost every pocket of the city. From the galleries in the Short North Arts District to artist studios in Franklinton and exciting public art in the burgeoning Gay Street District, there’s always something new to experience.

I was also surprised to learn that in Central Ohio, the arts generate $9.1 billion in economic impact each year. As Columbus anticipates growing to a population of over 3 million people by 2050, the arts sector is poised to play a significant part. Robust arts and cultural offerings are an essential factor in shaping someone’s decision to relocate.


CCAD/Franklinton Fridays Collage

The Columbus College of Art and Design (left) Franklinton Fridays (right).


What makes Columbus a great city for the arts?

Along with the impact of renowned art programs at Columbus College of Art and Design and The Ohio State University, I have found the local arts community to be incredibly supportive and collaborative. The city's relatively affordable cost of living provides a foundation for artists to create, experiment, and flourish while also being within arm's reach of larger cities. Additionally, Columbus residents, local businesses, and government all actively participate in fostering a thriving arts scene. This collaborative spirit creates a nurturing environment for artists and provides a wide range of accessible arts experiences for the community.


CMA Sculpture Garden at dusk.

The Patricia M. Jurgensen Sculpture Garden at the Columbus Museum of Art.


Where in the Columbus Museum of Art do you recommend first-time visitors explore?

For first-time visitors, I highly recommend starting with our permanent collection. It offers a fantastic overview of our rich offerings, ranging from Old Masters to emerging contemporary artists. We are proud to be home to some of the largest collections of work by several renowned artists with connections to Columbus, including Aminah Robinson, Elijah Pierce, and George Bellows. We also encourage visitors to explore our rotating special exhibitions. Marie Laurencin: Sapphic Paris and Robin F. Williams: We’ve Been Expecting You are on view until August 18 and are included in the cost of general admission.

Don't miss the Wonder Room in our JPMorgan Chase Center for Creativity, a hands-on space designed to engage visitors of all ages in creative exploration. Lastly, enjoy lunch or a cup of tea in our Patricia M. Jurgensen Sculpture Garden. Join us in the summer for BAM Thursdays (Bar, Art, and Music) every Thursday until September 26, featuring live music, art, and libations in our garden.


Columbus Museum of Art Interior Huntington Atrium

The Huntington Atrium at the Columbus Museum of Art.


What are some exciting things on the horizon for the Columbus Museum of Art?

I’m incredibly excited for our fall special exhibitions. In a landmark collaboration with the Wexner Center for the Arts and The Gund at Kenyon College, we are proud to present the groundbreaking work of Ming Smith – a pioneering photographer from Columbus and the first Black woman photographer to have their work acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in 1979.  Each institution will simultaneously present a different series of Smith’s work, offering visitors a sweeping view of her decades-long career. Ming Smith: Transcendence and Ming Smith: August Moon will be on view at CMA September 19, 2024 - January 25, 2025.

In addition to presenting the work of Ming Smith, we invite visitors to explore the Caribbean and its diaspora in Fragments of Epic Memory, on view September 19, 2024 and January 25, 2025. Fragments of Epic Memory marks one of CMA’s largest presentations of video and time-based works, featuring a plethora of video projections that cultivate an immersive, responsive experience with viewers.


Wexner Center for the Arts

The Wexner Center for the Arts.


Other than the museum, where are your favorite places to experience art in Columbus?

The Wexner Center for the Arts is a must-visit, known for its innovative exhibitions and performances that push the boundaries of contemporary art. If you haven’t seen it yet, I encourage everyone to experience Current, the sky-high sculpture suspended in the air above Gay and High Street. Current was created by the world-renowned sculptor Janet Echelman and donated to CMA by the Edwards Family.


Here are more places in Columbus to experience the arts scene this summer:

CBUS Soul Sculpture Trail

The CBUS Soul® Sculpture Trail explores African American art in Columbus.


CBUS Soul® Sculpture Trail

Travel around Columbus and explore the works of African American artists on the CBUS Soul® Sculpture Trail. This summer is the perfect time to hit the trail with new stops, audio clips and text descriptions of the sculptures are now available as you peruse the art around town. Check in at each stop to earn points towards the final prize: a CBUS Soul®️-themed tote bag! Hit the trail.


Current by Janet Echelman

Current hangs above the intersection of Gay and High Streets in downtown Columbus.


Current by Janet Echelman

Current is a vibrantly colored floating sculpture representing the weaving threads connecting Columbus’s urban street grid with its river waterfront to create a tapestry expressing the city’s unique history. This summer enjoy, Undercurrent, a block party and night market event series celebrating art, creativity and more periodically throughout the season. Learn more.


Franklinton Arts District - Urban Scrawl

Franklinton hosts many arts events including Scrawl (pictured) and Franklinton Fridays.


Franklinton Fridays

The arts come alive in Franklinton on the second Friday of every month during Franklinton Fridays from 6-10 pm. Experience a neighborhood-wide celebration of art, performance, and community this summer! Learn more.


Guests viewing artwork during Short North Gallery Hop

Short North Arts District Gallery Hop.


Short North Gallery Hop

On the first Saturday of each month in Columbus' Short North neighborhood, explore local galleries, listen to live music on the streets and shop local vendors. Visit this summer to enjoy the warm weather and vibrancy of this neighborhood, known as the art and soul of Columbus. Learn more.


Immersive art experience at Otherworld in Columbus

Otherworld, an immersive art experience, is just outside of Columbus.



Explore another universe at Otherworld Ohio, an immersive art experience just outside the city limits. Otherworld is a futuristic entertainment concept combining art, escape rooms and more in one out-of-this-world place. Learn more.