The original letter of incorporation for what is now known as the Dayton Art Institute was signed on February 28, 1919. At the time, the institution was known as the Dayton Museum of Arts. In the beginning, the Dayton Museum of Arts stood at the intersection of Monument Avenue and St. Clair Street in the central business district of Dayton. It resided in the elegant Kemper residence, which had been demolished in 1945. The museum first opened its doors as an art school, along with a modest art collection. The Dayton Art Institute was established in 1927 when the institution's previous moniker was altered to reflect the increasing significance of the art school. Browse around this site.
The new museum had tremendous expansion over its first decade of operation, and it soon outgrew its location in the center of Dayton. The building of a new house on a hill overlooking downtown Dayton started in 1928, made possible by the philanthropic contributions of a donor named Julia Shaw Patterson Carnell, who donated $2 million, and many other community members. The world-famous museum architect, Edward B. Green, who hails from Buffalo, New York, was responsible for designing the stunning structure that houses the museum.
When she was younger, Julia had the chance to go on adventures all around the globe. The museum's design was based on two Italian Renaissance palazzos she admired: the Villa d'Este near Rome and the Villa Farnese at Caprarola. This was because Italy was her favorite location to visit, and she also adored architecture. On a chilly and snowy day in January of 1930, the doors of the brand-new Dayton Art Institute were opened to the general public. About Julia's donation to the community, it is said that she said something to the effect of, "I feel as if I were giving you one of my children." Be courteous toward it. I would want everyone that comes here to feel welcome. I would love for you to visit me again and again.
Visitors to the museum were met with two open-air cloisters, two vast galleries, and a spectacular Great Hall when they arrived. The museum offered all of these things in addition to its lovely galleries. A magnificent donation made by Julia Shaw Patterson Carnell, which she referred to as "Dayton's Living Room," was given to the community. Even now, after ninety years, the Dayton Art Institute remains in the same building,
In September of 1994, the museum made public its intention to undertake the most extensive expansion and refurbishment project in its history by announcing the Renaissance Campaign as its next significant fundraising effort. In June of 1997, the Dayton Art Institute had its grand reopening after expanding its display space by more than 35,000 square feet and entirely renovating the galleries that house its permanent collection. The renovations included enclosing the Shaw Gothic Cloister, which resulted in the creation of new event space, and adding the Entrance Rotunda and the James F. Dicke Gallery of Contemporary Art, which brought Julia's initial idea to fruition.
In the 21st century, ongoing renovations have upgraded original restrooms, upgraded original gallery windows, restored the Grand Staircase, and renovated the Mimi and Stuart Rose Auditorium, among numerous other upgrades and improvements that will help preserve the historic building for the next 100 years.
In 1930, when the brand-new museum building opened its doors to the public, the collection comprised around two hundred different items. The group now contains over 27,000 separate items after being amassed over a century. The lovely bronze sculpture, Joy of the Waters, by Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, was a gift from Julia Shaw Patterson Carnell and became the first item to be officially registered as part of the collection. The sculpture was initially shown in the garden of the museum's first site, which was situated on Monument Avenue.
When the museum relocated to its present site, the artwork was relocated to the new building's Italian cloister (now known as the Hale Cloister). The piece was conserved and then transferred to the American Art Museum's Dicke Wing to protect it from the elements in recognition of the Renaissance Campaign.
The museum's encyclopedic collection has become nationally and internationally recognized over the years. It is one of the best collections in the Midwest. It has a concentration on African, American, and ancient art. American, Antiquities, Asian, Contemporary, European, Glass, Photography, Textiles, and Works on Paper.
Today, the museum is actively working to increase its acquisition funds and is dedicated to collecting artwork that will enrich its comprehensive collection. In particular, the museum is interested in acquiring works created by underrepresented artists, particularly those made by minorities and women.
Additionally, the museum has developed a reputation for presenting and arranging exceptional special exhibits. In 1960, the museum started to host remarkable shows, such as the Chrysler Collection of French Paintings, which resulted in 56,000 people visiting the museum.
During the 1990s, the museum organized special exhibitions such as Theme & Improvisation: Kandinsky & the American Avant-Garde, which received international acclaim; Edgar Degas: The Many Dimensions of a Master French Impressionist, which broke the existing attendance record; and Eternal China: Splendors from the First Dynasties, which drew visitors from the 50 state as well as more than 20 foreign countries. Each of these exhibitions received international acclaim.
The museum has continued its long-standing practice of honoring its history of delivering exceptional educational programs and unique exhibits in the 21st century. The Triumph of French Painting: Masterpieces from Ingres to Matisse and Form from Fire: Glass Sculpture are the exhibitions that have stood out as highlights in the past. The latter included Egypt's most extensive collection of antiquities, made available for a temporary loan. Diana: A Celebration was an event that was held at the museum in 2006 to celebrate the life of Diana. The contemporary art show "Creating the New Century" was put on by the Dayton Art Institute in 2011, and it was met with overwhelming acclaim from both the general public and professional art reviewers. More than 45,000 people went to see the exhibition at the museum titled "American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell," which was held between the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012.
Recent exhibitions that stood out for visitors included: Samurai, Ghosts, and Lovers: Yoshitoshi's Complete 100 Aspects of the Moon; Into the Ether: Contemporary Light Artists; Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence; Our Century: Dayton Area Collects; and Dayton Celebrates Glass: Chihuly, Littleton, Labino, and Beyond.
In 2019, the museum commemorated the one-hundredth anniversary of its establishment by holding more than one hundred different Happenings for 100 Years and two community open house events. As it approaches its second century, the Dayton Art Institute continues to grow thanks to introducing creative new programming, increasing the use of technology, and expanding service offerings.
You can visit their website or call them at (937)-223-4278.