About Merilee Mostov

Merilee Mostov is Director of Inclusive Intrepretation for Columbus Museum of Art.

What is Wonder?

What Is Wonder?

One day this year, millions of people paused from their daily routine to experience wonder. On August 21, 2017 people from all over the country went outside, looked at the sky, and gasped.   If you were one of the millions who donned special glasses and rejoiced at the movement of sun and moon, then you already know what wonder feels like.

Wonder is a brief encounter with something awe-inspiring, shocking, or utterly unbelievable. Wonder is a fleeting encounter with something unexpected, yet unmistakable. A squirrel running across the road doesn’t inspire wonder. An albino squirrel sitting in your living room does.  

The tantalizing thing about wonder is that it catches you off guard. Every. Single. Time.

The sight of a funnel-cloud flirting with the horizon. Gasp! The first sounds of your baby’s beating heart. Gasp! The brush of a bat’s wing on a summer evening. Gasp!

The great thing about wonder is that it reminds us what it means to be alive, alert, and part of a larger world. Wonder shakes us out of our mundane routine. Wonder is our brain’s way of telling us to stop, even for a brief moment, and notice something new. If we’re lucky, that moment may inspire further investigation, learning, and understanding about ourselves and the world.

At CMA we champion the mysterious, multitudinous, mesmerizing power of wonder. Out of those moments, not matter how brief, great artists, and people like you and me, are motivated to question, investigate, and think anew. Gasp!

The new Wonder Room will open in CMA’s JPMorgan Chase Center for Creativity the weekend of October 28 with a special member debut on October 27 from 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM.

-Merilee Mostov is CMA’s Director of Inclusive Interpretation

Collective Voices


Let’s face it. A visit to an art museum can be overwhelming. There’s so much to look at and read about. So if you are game for a different kind of art experience, I have a suggestion.

On your next visit to CMA, try out some of our many Collective Voices audio recordings. While strolling the galleries, keep your eyes out for a label like this one.

Collective Voices Label

The Collective Voices label will give you all the information you need to listen to an audio recording on your cell phone. We’ve used this Guide by Cell program for a couple of years. But this year we’re giving it a facelift — a new name to match our new approach to the project.

At CMA we aspire to include people and ideas that represent the diversity of our Columbus communities. The Collective Voices project is just one way we can share diverse perspectives about art from people in different communities.

So how is this project different than what we usually do? Usually we provide written labels near a work of art. When you see those labels, you can be pretty certain that they were written by one of a handful of art historians, or curators, on our staff. Curators provide valuable background information and years of studied understanding about a work or artist.

Collective Voices is different. Sometimes you will hear a curator or the artist talking. More often, you will hear the perspectives, stories, interpretation, and wonderings of other people in our community – a local artist, entrepreneur, student, community leader, educator, politician, CMA member, or a CMA staff person other than a curator.

Zoe Leonard

Listen to Yolanda Harris, ABC 6/Fox News Anchor talk about this Zoe Leonard photograph, 614-448-5095. Press 22 #.

I’m leading up this project and I’ve had a great time hearing what different people think and wonder about the same painting. I’ve been brought to tears looking at a sculpture through someone else’s eyes and life experience. I’ve noticed new things in a familiar photograph. For example, Yolanda Harris, ABC 6/Fox News Anchor, makes me laugh out loud when she talks about a Zoe Leonard photograph. You can listen too by calling 614-448-5095. Press 22 #

And I’m warmed by nostalgia when I listen to Nichole E. Dunn, President & CEO of the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, remember her childhood in Minnesota in response to a Grandma Moses painting. Check it out by calling 614-448-5095. Press 107#.

Grandma Moses

Listen to Nichole E. Dunn, President & CEO of the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, remember her childhood in Minnesota in response to this Grandma Moses painting, 614-448-5095, Press 107#.

Listening to the new Collective Voices recordings reminds me that making sense of a great work of art isn’t about finding an answer. It’s about being open to the multitude of questions and stories it inspires.