The Dayton Art Institute is located in Dayton atop a hill, over-looking the Great Miami River. It was founded in 1919 and is currently one of the region’s premier fine arts museums. The mission of the Dayton Art Institute is to enrich the community by “creating meaningful experiences with art that are available to all”.
Through the pursuit of this mission, the Institute has become renowned for its outstanding special exhibitions, impressive collections of art from around the world, and its educational programming that appeals to visitors of all ages and backgrounds.
One of the founding patrons of the Dayton Art Institute was prominent community leader, Orville Wright. The Museum’s landmark building was modeled after the Villa d’Este near Rome and the Villa Farnese at Caprarola in Italy. It was designed by prominent architect, Edward B. Green and has become one of the most architecturally and historically significant facilities listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Museum’s vast collection spans 5,000 years of history and includes some of the most important Oceanic, Asian, European, and American fine and decorative art collections. Not only is the Museum host to said prominent collections, it also hosts concerts, family and youth programs, classes, social events, and has even become one of the area’s premier settings for weddings and corporate meetings.
The permanent art collection at the Dayton Art Institute features more than 1,000 works on view in 12 different collections: African, American, Ancient Art, Asian, European, Glass, Native American, New Acquisitions, Oceanic, Outdoor Sculpture, Photography, and Pre-Columbian art. Each gallery contains elegantly displayed artwork in a peaceful and creative environment. Brief highlights of each collection can be found below:
The African Art Collection contains artifacts from the Bamileke, Senufo, Lobala, and Songye peoples. This includes costumes, carvings, masks, tools, and figurines of important community members. The “Nkishi” or “Power Figure” is one of the collections most exciting pieces. It is 46 inches tall and made of hard wood, metal, antelope horns, civet hide, lizard skin, fiber, feathers, nuts, oil, and fiber cord. It is truly an intriguing piece of work by the Songye people.
The American Art Collection is one of the largest collections at the Dayton Art Institute. It contains all kinds of pieces including decorative arts, paintings, photographs, sculptures, writings, and much more. This collection is not to be missed.
The Ancient Art Collection features works from the Acharmenid, Eqyptian, Greco-Roman, Cycladic Islands, Praenestine, and the Dayton Painter. Intricate carvings, pottery, and sculptures are the main focal points of this collection; however, the main event is a relief fragment from Persepolis carved from gray stone.
The Asian Art Collection is another one of the Museum’s largest and most exciting collections. It features pieces from all over Asia, including works from Burma, China, India, Japan, Thailand, and Korea. It also features fabulous pieces from the Tank and Ming Dynasties. Sculptures, decorative arts, pottery, religious icons, paintings, and even warrior swords are in this collection.
The European Art Collection is also one of the most vast and elegant collections at the Museum. Hundreds of paintings and sculptures from all over Europe can be found in this collection, but the most exciting piece in the collection is the infamous “Waterlilies” by Claude Monet.
The Glass Collection contains brilliantly beautiful pieces by artists such as Dale Chihuly, Jon Kuhn, and Christopher Ries. The piece entitled “Celebration” is cut and polished glass from the year 1952 and is one of the collections most beloved pieces.
The Native American Art Collection may be one of the Museum’s smallest collection but it features from truly exciting pieces, including the “Owl Effigy Pipe”. The New Acquisitions Collection has recently added its newest piece to its permanent collection, a large painting by American artist, Elmer Bishcoff. It is oil on canvas called “Untitled” and it is from the year 1952.
The Oceanic Art Collection features instruments and masks from the Naggala, Wogumas, and Vanuatuan peoples. The Pre-Columbian Art Collection contains exquisite masks, sculptures, pottery, and much more from around 2200 and 1500 years ago.
The Photography Collection features exciting photos from all over the world, the collection’s most exciting piece, however, is entitled “Pool in a Brook, New Hampshire” by Elliot Porter. Porter is known as the “dean of American color photography” and has been honored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art by letting him host its first one-man color photography exhibition at the MET in 1979.
The Outdoor Sculpture Collection of the Museum is a wonderfully beautiful experience. Visitors can explore large and exquisite pieces by artists such as Alexander Liberman, John Safer, and Bret Price.
If visitors are new to the world of art, the Lange Family Experiencenter is an interactive gallery for families and young people to experience and learn about great art in smaller, thematically-based exhibitions. This exhibition is meant to stimulate curiosity and creativity for visitors who may have never had access to art education previously.
There is a diverse lineup of special exhibitions coming up at the Dayton Art Institute including “Ravaged Sublime: Landscape Photography in the 21st Century” on display until January 8, 2017, and “Water in Japanese Art” on display until January 29, 2017.
“Ravaged Sublime” demonstrates a rising trend among photographers who challenge the traditional definitions of landscapes and what constitutes the definition of the word “sublime” in the 21st century. There are more than 30 photographs in this exhibition with tantalizing and striking imagery. “Water in Japanese Art” features works that represent one of the most important elements in Japanese culture – water. The Museum’s collection contains a strong collection of Edo-period (1603 – 1868) work including paintings, woodblock prints, and screen printings.
The Museum is located at 456 Belmonte Park North in Downtown Dayton, Ohio just off Interstate 75. College students with valid ID and children under the age of 17 gain free admission to the Museum.
There is an exciting museum store for visitors to purchase souvenirs, a world-class bistro for a relaxing lunch break, as well as a variety of self-guided and guided tours available. There are always special exhibitions, programs, and events, so be sure to check the full calendar of events for more information.
The surrounding Dayton area offers world-class dining, shopping, and culture for visitors of all interests.
The Dayton Art Institute hosts a variety of events and activities year-round including Oktoberfest, the Art Ball, lectures, music and concerts, wine tasting series, and even yoga at the museum.
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456 Belmonte Park North Dayton, OH 45405–4700, Phone: 937-223-5277