Home to dozens of museums and art galleries and several art districts, Columbus is brimming with ways to experience the arts. In celebration of National Go to an Art Museum Day, celebrated annually on Nov. 9, we spoke with local artist and longtime Columbus College of Art & Design faculty member Tim Rietenbach. Keep reading for his picks on where to experience the arts in the Arch City.


Buzzing crowd of patrons passing vendor booths in street under "ART" sign at Columbus Arts Festival


Please note, this list is extensive, though not exhaustive!

Where to experience art by local and national artists

Take an arts crawl through Columbus at these galleries and museums that feature a curatorial mix of local and national artists. The Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University (OSU) is an internationally known contemporary arts center that features rotating exhibitions, an expansive film/video and performing arts series, artists talks, and a strong education program for high school students, according to Rietenbach. He recommends heading to the Wex now through January to view dozens of paintings by international artist Jacqueline Humphries, including a new multi-panel installation—her largest to date.

Wexner Center for the Arts

While at OSU, stop by Hopkins Hall Gallery for student and faculty exhibitions. Also connected to OSU but located downtown is Urban Arts Space, which primarily features work by faculty and students and has a history of impressive exhibitions according to Rietenbach. 

For more contemporary and experimental art centered in the heart of an academic environment, head to Columbus College of Art & Design where Rietenbach oversees campus galleries. Beeler Gallery has a 15-year history of featuring international, national and local artists and has an independent curatorial approach. Each spring, student work is spotlighted with BFA and MFA exhibitions.

Colorful art installation on floor of CCAD's Beeler Gallery
While you’re downtown, Rietenbach recommends checking out the Ohio Art Council’s Riffe Gallery to view works by Ohio artists and the Cultural Art Center, which is housed in a historic Armory along the Scioto River and features exhibitions of local and regional artists and provides continuing education classes.

In the Short North Arts District, head to Hammond Harkins Galleries, which Rietenbach says has great openings and is one of Columbus’ long standing commercial galleries. To view an outstanding African sculpture collection, check out The Schumacher Gallery at Capital University. 


Museums that have their own collections

Columbus is home to two collecting institutions, Columbus Museum of Art and Pizzuti Collection, an extension of Columbus Museum of Art. Columbus Museum of Art features a permanent collection, traveling international exhibitions, artist talks, special events and more. Their collection includes late nineteenth and early twentieth-century American and European modern works of art. Rietenbach recommends visiting the soon-to-open Through Vincent’s Eyes: Van Gogh and His Sources. Located in the Short North Arts District, Pizzuti Collection features temporary exhibitions of contemporary art from the collection of Ron and Ann Pizzuti, who are among ArtNews' Top 200 Collectors in the world.

A visitor looking at a piece of artwork at the Columbus Museum of Art


Where to discover emerging artists

Columbus is also home to numerous alternative spaces that serve the emerging artist community, according to Rietenbach. In the Franklinton Arts District, find ROY G BIV Gallery, whose exhibitions aim to increase the public's awareness of the artists' work and enhance the cultural diversity of Central Ohio, and The Vanderelli Room, an exhibition space and social and performance venue. Downtown, head to No Place, which Rietenbach explains was started by a handful of CCAD alumni and has grown into an artist-run gallery that features a range of contemporary visual art.

Franklinton Mural

Connected to the live-work artist community Milo Arts, 934 Gallery presents publicly accessible art and has an expansive outdoor gallery featuring more than 40 murals. Also connected to a living and studio space is Skylab Gallery, which serves many students and alumni of CCAD and OSU.

Finally, Rietenbach recommends viewing the annual Young Hearts exhibition at Sean Christopher Gallery to discover rising artists and heading to Dream Clinic to experience a unique contemporary project space located in a garage studio.

Find even more arts galleries here and visual arts events here.