Contemporary Arts Center
Officially called the Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, the center opened in 2003. Designed by the late Zaha Hadid, the New York Times declared it to be the "the best new building since the Cold War.” It features 16,000 square feet of exhibition space, another exhibition, and educational space called the "UnMuseum.” It also offers musical concerts, theatrical performances, artist talks, workshops, and school programs.
Backstory and Context
The Contemporary Arts Center was originally founded as the Modern Art Society way back in 1939 by three women named Betty P. Rauh, Peggy F. Crawford, and Rita R. Cushman. These three women raised enough donations in order to exhibit modern art at the Cincinnati Art Museum. The society’s first exhibit was named “Modern Painting from Cincinnati Collections” and it opened in December 1939. It was not until 1954 when the society decided to rename the art gallery from the Modern Art Society to the Contemporary Arts Center. The name change came at the same time the museum’s lower level was the host of two new art galleries.
Many local pieces of arts were shown in this space which have been kept in the Cincinnati Art Museum included in the Mary E. Johnson collection. The construction of the Emery Wing replaced the original space of the Contemporary Arts Center at the Cincinnati Arts Museum. In 1962, the museum curators were looking to expand so the CAC moved out inhabiting several
places such as the Taft Museum of Art and the Carew Tower. It found a temporary home in the Women’s Exchange Building for six years. It then moved all the way to the Mercantile Center, which opened back in 1970.
The CAC suffered from financial troubles in 1971, but push through when the ladies put in over 400 exhibitions during it’s 30-year stay at the building. A permanent lease for the building was acquired in 1982 through the use of a city bond. Talks of a new home began in the 80’s as the ladies looked at the Ohio Mechanics Institute and the Aronoff Center. In 1997, the decision was made to construct the center’s first independent and free-standing building of their own. Construction of this building started in 2001 and the place officially opened on May 31, 2003.
"About." Contemporary Arts Center. Accessed February 27, 2017. http://www.contemporaryartscenter.org/about.
Muschamp , Herbert. “ART/ARCHITECTURE; Zaha Hadid’s Urban Mothership”, The New York Times. June 8th 2003. Accessed May 11th 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/08/arts/art-architecture-zaha-hadid-s-urban-mothership.html.