Your Guide to an Arts Weekend in Columbus
February 10, 2017 by Matthew Adair
Even in less than pleasant weather, Columbus is lucky to have a number of cultural resources to explore during the cold drizzles and flurries of the season.
Two of the most cherished downtown institutions recently received serious upgrades. If you haven’t checked out the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s renovated main branch, be sure to get there soon. Experiencing it in the winter season will make your spring and summer visits even more meaningful! The previous design of the building turned its back on the stately Topiary Park to the east, but no more! Today’s library is full of natural light (and plenty of books), offering a sweeping view of George Seurat’s famous painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte as interpreted through topiary plants. When you visit, be sure to enter through the central doorway under the Andrew Carnegie inscription in the facade to get the full effect. Walk through the open atrium along the ground floor and you’ll find the gift shop on your left and cafe on your right. The shop, run by The Friends of the Library, features locally-made and literary-themed items for your book-worm friends. Continue on through the rear doors and find yourself on a lovely patio space dotted with tables and chairs under bright yellow umbrellas. Now you’re next to the Topiary Park, so go explore the pond and play hide-and-seek behind the characters from the Seurat work!
Now make your way to the Columbus Museum of Art - less than a five minute walk - but take a detour through the picturesque property of the 19th-century Kelton House Museum and Gardens. Head east on Town Street until you find the Kelton House (586 E. Town St.) and head left down the side to access the back gardens. Admire the garden, and continue through to Franklin Avenue, one of Downtown’s hidden treasures. Lined with 19th-century brick cottages, the bricked Franklin Avenue is reminiscent of pre-highway Columbus, when downtown flowed into Olde Towne East and the road stretched from the Topiary Park all the way to Rhoads Avenue at the eastern boundary of Franklin Park.
Loop back around westward along Franklin Avenue, and take a right on Washington Avenue to head up to E. Broad Street, where you’ll see the Columbus Museum of Art emerge from behind the green stone of the 1885 Broad Street United Methodist Church. The museum’s newest addition—at 50,000 square feet—is the most eye-catching piece of the the building’s facade. Enter the building through the back, at the point where 1931 meets 2015, the original and addition.
While the art at CMA is undeniably noteworthy, there are other things to do at our art museum in addition to perusing the galleries. Have you ever wanted to practice meditative yoga in the serene silence of an art gallery? Check out Yoga@CMA most Thursdays at 6 p.m. for a chance to experience art and yoga in a new collaborative way! Another unique experience is the Jazz Masters Sessions. Seize the opportunity to experience this American-born music genre in a beautiful building constructed at the end of the Jazz Age in the 1920s. Lastly—and perhaps most appealing to the most people—you must see the Lego sculpture of Columbus. On display until February 17, the Think Outside the Brick display is a collaborative project with the Ohio LEGO User’s Group (OhioLUG). An enormous model of Columbus, the exhibit features the return of familiar landmarks and imaginative creations that will delight all ages and prompt a new perspective of our fair city. For a more traditional CMA experience, join the Love is in the Air docent tour, offered at various times until Valentine’s Day! A knowledgeable docent will guide you through the exhibits, helping you look at art differently and answering your questions.
Whether the weather is sunny or severe, Columbus’ cultural attractions are worth your time. They carry a renewed appeal when the temperatures drop, so make sure to see them soon!