It’s the most wonderful time of year to enjoy Cleveland Museum of Art

Winter officially arrives this Thursday, Dec. 21, Christmas is just five days away, and New Year’s Eve is around the corner.

It’s the perfect time to visit the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA), soak in the holiday décor, the many free collections, and some special exhibits that will be coming to a close in the new year.

The Art Museum’s Ames Family Atrium is certainly in the seasonal spirit ready to welcome guests for the winter holidays, with a holiday wreath, tree, menorah, and kinara on display for those who celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, and Kwanzaa.

Twelve Views of Tiger Hill, SuchouMaker: Shen Zhou (Chinese, 1427 - 1509)Twelve Views of Tiger Hill, SuchouMaker: Shen Zhou (Chinese, 1427 - 1509)Last call

This is a perfect time to experience the 15 exhibitions currently running at the Cleveland Museum of Art—a few of which will be closing early in 2024.

The landmark exhibit “China’s Southern Paradise: Treasures from the Lower Yangzi Delta,” which explores the historical and cultural riches of the pivotal region Jiangnan, opened in September in the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Hall and is due to close on Sunday, Jan. 7.

“China’s Southern Paradise” is the first exhibit in the West to focus on the Lower Yangzi Delta and features more than 200 objects relating to Jiangnan which has remained one of China’s wealthiest, most populous, and agriculturally fertile lands. Get tickets.

If France is a region of the world that inspires you, check out “Degas and the Laundress: Women, Work, and Impressionism.” The exhibit depicts a darker side of life as a working woman in 1800s France with nearly 100 works from more than 30 European and American collections. This is the first exhibit to explore Degas’s representations of Parisian laundresses and is the largest selection of these works seen together to date.  “Degas and the Laundress” runs through Sunday, Jan. 14. Get tickets.

Enjoy both “China’s Southern Paradise” and “Degas and the Laundress” with a combo ticket and save $5. Through Sunday, Jan. 7.

CMA's Art Up Close program invites museum attendees to walk-up and explore a selection of authentic prints that relate to the current special exhibitionCMA's Art Up Close program invites museum attendees to walk-up and explore a selection of authentic prints that relate to the current special exhibitionThroughout December, CMA has been offering its Art Up Close educational program for guests of all ages.  Participants can explore a selection of works—in December the works centered around “Degas and the Laundress” and “China’s Southern Paradise”—and educators and docents are on hand to answer questions and share information about the works. Additional Art Up Close pop-up events are planned for January.   

French food and drink, and live music, are almost necessities after viewing French art, so take advantage of Tasting Notes: Date Night With Degas on the second and fourth Fridays of the month through January.

Date Night with Degas includes a docent-led tour of the “Degas and Laundress” at 6 p.m., followed by a mix of live French music and jazz, and a special French menu created by Chef Doug Katz and Bon Appétit Management Company.

The next Date Night is this Friday, Dec. 22, and features Thorne Musica with Anthony Taddeo. Get reservations to Provenance.  

Egyptomania: Fashion’s Conflicted Obsession. Which has been on view in CMA’s textile and Egyptian galleries since April, will be coming to a close on Sunday, Jan. 28.

The exhibit brings together about 50 objects that explore the influence of Egyptomania in fashion by juxtaposing contemporary fashion and jewelry loaned from around the world with fine and decorative artworks from the CMA collection.

Egyptomania examines designers’ interpretations of themes, such as Egyptian dress, funerary process, and religion, which shape our contemporary perceptions of ancient Egyptian culture.

Many questions raised by the intersection between Egyptomania and fashion in today’s social climate are examined in the exhibit. Dialogues about cultural appropriation, ancient Egypt’s place in African history, and Black empowerment bubble to the surface—critiquing fashion’s conflicted obsession with Egyptian art.

Community Arts Center’s Winter Open StudiosCommunity Arts Center’s Winter Open StudiosOpen Studios

All ages and experience levels can celebrate and reflect during Open Studios at both the CMA and the CMA Community Arts Center (CAC), located inside the Pivot Center for Art, Dance, and Expression.

“Anyone looking for some art-making fun can visit the Cleveland Museum of Art between Christmas and New Year’s Eve,” says Stefanie Lima Taub, CMA director of community arts. “Join us for special, free drop-in open studios in the classrooms with ‘Time Travel’ activities designed for the whole family or reflect on the past year and dream of the future by painting a colorful canvas of your New Year’s dreams and designing a time capsule for your memories.”

Reflect on the past year and dream of the future with Open Studio: Time Travel in the Museum classrooms B and C from Tuesday, Dec. 26 through Friday, Dec. 29 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Drop in to paint a colorful canvas of what’s to come in the New Year, design a vessel for your memories, and explore creative ways to document time in this series of hands-on arts activities.

  • Time Capsule: Get ready for a blast from the past! Grab some recycled materials and follow CMA's "memory-recipe" to create a unique time capsule to capture all your favorite moments.
  • Collective Chronicle: Ring in the New Year and add your own touch to CMA’s community timeline. Share your special moments and be a part of the museum family’s fantastic journey through time together.
  • Collage-a-Calendar: Dive into the rich tapestry of the past and let the strokes of history guide you as you draw inspiration from the CMA’s collection. Combine collage and your creative vision to craft a one-of-a-kind calendar.
  • Memory Map: Transform the past into a vibrant map that will light the way for your exciting journey ahead.
Additionally, the Community Arts Center, 2937 W. 25th Street (with free parking in the lot on Castle Avenue), is creating a Winter Wonderland installation this season. Guests are invited to stop by during the special weekday open hours to create with the team during Winter Open Studios from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 27, Thursday, Dec. 28, Wednesday, Jan. 3, and Thursday, Jan. 4.

Visit the Community Arts Center, CMA’s art making facility to explore our Winter Wonderland light display,” says Lima Taub. “While here, all ages and experience levels can explore the center, make clay animals and learn some fun facts about how animals live during the winter.”

Projects include learning fun facts about animals during the winter and celebrating light and the New Year. Make animals out of clay and cardboard tubes.

The activities and project are free, open to all ages and experience levels, and registration is not required.

Last-minute holiday shopping

These exhibits and activities are just a swatch of what the Cleveland Museum of Art has to offer. While you’re visiting, there are opportunities for holiday shopping as well. Consider buying loved ones Cleveland Museum of Art memberships, with levels ranging from $65 to $250, and come with a bunch of perks and discounts (and they’re tax deductible).

Or stop by the museum store for that one-of-a-kind gift. Choose from a variety of cards, posters and gifts based on exhibitions and works from the museum’s collections. Find unique jewelry from the PONO Collection by Joan Goodman. Buy accessories and other items from both local artists and museums around the country.  CMA members get a 15% discount in the store, too.

Don’t forget, admission to the Museum is free, and is open late on Wednesday and Friday nights until 9 p.m.

Regular hours are Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. CMA is closed on Mondays.

The CMA will close at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 24 and Sunday, Dec. 31, and will be closed on Monday, Dec. 25 and Monday, Jan. 1.

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: Karin Connelly Rice

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.