CMA’s Chief Engagement Officer Receives Marsh Award for Excellence in Gallery Education

On Thursday 13 October, the sixth annual Marsh Awards for Excellence in Gallery Education celebrated the hard work, dedication and innovation of colleagues working within the sector of gallery, museum and visual arts education. The awards are funded by the Marsh Christian Trust and run by engage, the support and advocacy organization for gallery education, whose mission is to increase access to the visual arts.

Merliee Mostov

Chief Engagement Officer Merilee Mostove was one of 5 individuals to receive the prestigious Marsh Award for Gallery Education.

CMA’s Chief Engagement Officer Merilee Mostov was one of five individuals who received awards, presented by Professor Roderick Bugg, Ambassador of the Marsh Christian Trust, and Lesley Butterworth, Chair of engage, during the annual engage International Conference in Liverpool. The awards are open to those working in galleries and visual arts organizations, and colleagues are invited to nominate deserving co-workers every summer. The winners receive £500 to spend on their professional development, and are open to both UK and international colleagues. Feedback from previous winners has been overwhelmingly positive – they have been delighted to receive recognition for their work and have reported increased confidence and opportunities as a result of winning the award, as well as, benefits for the organizations where they worked.

“This is the sixth year that engage has celebrated the achievements of colleagues through the Marsh Awards for Excellence in Gallery Education. As ever the panel were extremely impressed by the quality of nominations received from individuals at all stages of their careers, working as freelancers and employees across the UK and internationally. We are proud to work with the Marsh Christian Trust to mark the valuable contribution made by colleagues in making the visual arts more accessible,” said Jane Sillis, Director of Engage in the Visual Arts.

As Chief Engagement Officer at the Columbus Museum of Art, Merilee Mostov leads the museum exhibition planning process, as well as, developing a diverse range of in-gallery experiences. She also curates several experimental galleries within the museum, including The Wonder Room, the Big Idea Gallery and the Creative Lounge. Mostov was nominated by Deputy Director of Learning and Experience, Cindy Meyers Foley. “Merilee developed our strategy for Visitor Engagement by rallying an interdepartmental team, prototyping ideas, and researching the results. She developed an outcomes-based exhibition form to ensure that we are not only intentional about learning outcomes but are also providing opportunities for visitors to “think like artists. Merilee’s work has had an incredible impact on our community.” said Foley.

Last Days for the Picasso Exhibition in Columbus

Last days for Picasso

Exhibitions are in and of themselves creative acts. The Picasso exhibition is an original exhibition organized by Columbus Museum of Art and the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. You bring these great works of art from all over the world, in this case London, Paris, New York, Zurich… and they live together for a brief period of time before they go back to their homes.

Only a few more days to see the Picasso exhibition in Columbus before it closes September 11, 2016. We’ve extended hours on Friday September 9 and Sunday September 11 until 9pm, with hours on Saturday September 10 from 10am – 5:00pm.

For details and tickets visit the Picasso exhibition page.



Announcing the 2016 LEGO Design Challenge

2016 Lego Design Challenge

Once gain we’re partnering to present the 2016 LEGO Design Challenge: 50 Years Past, 50 Years Future. 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act which works to preserve important places all across America. The 2016 LEGO Design Challenge is to create a structure based off of something built 50 years ago, or what you think buildings might look like 50 years from now.

Selected LEGO Design Challenge Winners On View
Ohio History Center: Nov. 9, 2016 – Jan. 15, 2017
Columbus Museum of Art: Nov. 11, 2016 – Feb 26, 2017
Ohio Statehouse: Nov. 23, 2016 – Jan 30, 2017
Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center: Jan 5 – March 5, 2017

Check out the National Register of Historic Places for inspiration.

Categories for the 2016 Lego Design Contest are: Youth, Group/Family & Adult. The deadline for submissions is Monday, September 26.

Visit to submit your design and for more details.

The 2016 LEGO Design Challenge is partnership between the Ohio History Connection, Columbus Museum of Art, the Ohio Statehouse, and the Peggy R. McConnell Center of Worthington.

New Acquisitions Selected by the Contemporaries

CMA is pleased to announce two new acquisitions, made possible by The Contemporaries. The Contemporaries is a special membership group at the Museum who share an interest in contemporary art and vote to select a new work of art for the collection each year. In honor of their 10th anniversary, the group chose to support the purchase of two works: Victoria Gitman’s Untitled (2015) and Cameron Rowland’s Handpunch (2014-2015).


Untitled (2015) by Victoria Gitman, Courtesy of Garth Greenan Gallery

Victoria Gitman (Argentine, born 1972) makes breathtakingly naturalistic oil paintings that are sensual and tactile works of extreme craftsmanship, and at the same time historically and conceptually sophisticated works of contemporary art. She painstakingly renders beaded and fur handbags, as with Untitled (2015), vintage necklaces and other accessories against shallow, monochrome backgrounds. Her subjects, sourced in thrift stores, flea markets and online, are painted from life at one-to-one scale, and carry the lush aura of Old Master painting. They allude to social concerns with regard to femininity and fashion, and critically engage many central issues in modern painting: the notion style, the material realities of surface and support, and the relationship between form, image and content. Untitled (2015) will be at home in relation to the CMA’s examples of trompe l’oeil painting from the 18th and 19th centuries as well as collection of post-1945 abstract art and art that related to the everyday.


Handpunch by Cameron Rowland

Handpunch (2014–15) is a work consisting of 5 photographs by Cameron Rowland (American, born 1988). Like much of Rowland’s work, Handpunch isolates and re-presents objects by which our society controls the lives of its poor and marginalized, often by preemptively criminalizing them. Each close-up color photograph in the series focuses on the use of the SchlageHandPunch, which relies on biometric data to monitor hourly wage labor. Punching in was previously a rote mechanical operation but now the process brings criminal indexing technology to the workplace. Rowland’s work fits perfectly with CMA’s renowned Schiller Collection and Photo League Collection, which focuses on art that engaged with social issues, particularly as they related to worker’s rights in the 1930s.

New Web App Turns Photos Into Cubist Works of Art

Cubism was a revolutionary new approach to representing reality created by artists Pablo Picasso and George Braque. To celebrate the exhibition Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change, Columbus Museum of Art,  Greater Columbus Arts Council and Art Makes Columbus campaign have partnered to create a new reality for Columbus.  A web based application at encourages people to think like Picasso, experiment and make their own art by turning any photo into their own cubist masterpiece. Photos are saved to a digital gallery and can be shared on social media.

“CMA is thrilled to partner with the Arts Council on this unique project that turns everyone into an artist,” said CMA Executive Director Nannette V. Maciejunes. “The Museum values the creative process and the role artists play in cultivating imagination, connection and innovation. People can play like Picasso and exercise their creativity with”

“We’re delighted to support this fun and creative project,” said Tom Katzenmeyer, President and CEO of the Greater Columbus Arts Council. “We already know Columbus is home to many talented artists in all disciplines, and we love providing tools to encourage creativity in everyone.”

Images created at that are tagged with #PicassoatCMA will appear on a digital display in the exhibition. Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change is on view through September 11.

Q & A with Art Historian and Author Bridgette Alexander


Bridgette Alexander

Art Historian Bridgette R. Alexander recently debuted her first young adult mystery novel Southern Gothic, which tells the story of 16-year-old Celine Caldwell as she uncovers mystery, theft, intrigue, murder, and blackmail at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

We chatted with Alexander in advance of her appearance next week at the Bexley Library.

You spent a large part of your career working in the art world. When did you first become interested in art? And what inspired you to start writing? 

My great-grandfather was a visual artist. My grandmother showed me one of his works and asked me to draw it. I was about eight years old and I made a good reproduction of a pencil drawing. My grandmother felt I had a gift passed down from her father to me. That inspired her and my grandfather to support my art education and submissions to juried competitions through my high school years. I did well enough to keep myself motivated during that time. I attended, Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in Chicago, which was a school for performing arts.

Later I entered college hoping to become an archeologist, but my art history courses at Columbia University convinced me that you can study history, culture, society and politics as a part of studying art. I also learned that you could make a good living and a contribution to society by writing about art in books and journals.

Talk a little about how popular culture has influenced your creative decisions.

As a scholar and art historian I pay very little attention to popular culture. With that said, as a novelist and everyday person, I am very much aware of popular culture: TV, movies, books, videos, tastes and styles that are editorialized in magazines, newspapers and blogs. However, I am also aware of what demographics, subjects and interests are not as prominently represented in popular culture. That’s where Celine Caldwell comes in. With her I get to connect art history with the culture and the lifestyle of contemporary teenager. Celine is defined by downloading, streaming, listening, interacting through all of the platforms of popular culture.

Allow me to go back to what’s left out of our popular culture. Teenagers never get to imagine themselves as agents. I mean, capable of changing the world around them, as engaged and interested in things outside of themselves. Celine never leaves popular culture, but in fact she actively uses the tropes of popular culture to work through the challenges she’s facing.

Your book discusses issues, such as racism. How do you think art contributes to the understanding of history?

“Racism” is a bit of an abstract way to say it. One part of Southern Gothic discusses injustices against a black family during the bad days in the South when racial Jim Crow laws were being passed to keep black people out of public life and control their lives as much as possible…and a lot was possible. For me, what makes it racism, is not the bigot who murders and steals, but the institutions that have been set up to allow the bigot to act out. The institutions uphold the hateful and terrorist acts of the bigot, making it impossible for justice to be given.

The Klan was terrorizing black people and some white people too. The black family in Southern Gothic became landowning farmers, which was the case for about 10 percent of formerly enslaved people in some southern states; and this factional family lost its land to Klan thieves. The subplot of Southern Gothic brings this family to life, I hope, using a diary format and these paintings of them and their land. These figures are actually in a contemporary art mystery set at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and New York City.

Why do you think it is important for teenagers to learn about art, and how do you hope the Celine Caldwell series will inspire them?

Teenagers do not need to learn about art, but when they do….. But it is important for teenagers to see that there are exciting possibilities in life…possibilities for passionate engagements, for relationships, for careers, and for hobbies. Learning about art and the art works is a great way to be exposed to new possibilities.

Alexander will discuss Southern Gothic at the Bexley Library Thursday July 14 from 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM.