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Overlooked and Underrated Artifacts in Cleveland Museums

BY: Teresa Doyle Kovich | Jul 10, 2015
Overlooked and Underrated Artifacts in Cleveland Museums

So you’re looking for things to do in Cleveland. Maybe you’re a dedicated tourist who doesn’t want to miss a thing. Maybe you’re a local who’s memorized the major exhibits and you’re looking for new and interesting pieces (we promise, you haven’t seen it all). Here are a few of the hidden gems from the most popular Cleveland museums.

Georgia O’Keeffe: Cleveland Museum of Art

Tucked away on the east wing of the Cleveland Museum of Art—and easy to miss if you’re just doing a circuit of the second floor—one of the Modern galleries has two Georgia O’Keeffe oil paintings on view, including one of her stunning sensual floral pieces. The other is a classic Southwestern landscape piece depicting cliffs with a dry waterfall near her land in Abiquiú, New Mexico, which was bequeathed directly to the museum by O’Keeffe upon her death in 1986.

Blast from Ohio’s Past: Cleveland Museum of Natural History and Western Reserve Historical Society

With more than four million specimens, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History can be an all-day adventure—and even then, you still won’t have seen all it has to offer. Whether you’re there for an hour or from open to close, make sure to seek out the Ringler Dugout, a 22-foot canoe carved from a single white-oak log in the Late Prehistoric period. It was accidentally discovered in Savannah Lake in the 1970s, and experts estimate it was made 3,800 years ago.

When exploring the Western Reserve Historical Society’s museum collections and historical buildings, most visitors will hone in on the domestic-artifact selection and the rotating displays of pieces from the society’s more than 40,000 clothing and costuming items. Also worth checking out, however, is a military-history exhibit with such attractions as a Civil War torpedo that was found in the Tennessee River and soldiers’ lost or abandoned mess kits. There are even relics from Troop A, the independent military organization that formed in response to Cleveland’s 1870 labor unrest.

Auditory Artifacts: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

A true rock 'n' roll fan is unlikely to skip Michael Jackson’s dazzling glove or walk past the guitar John Lennon used to record “Norwegian Wood,” now adorned with two scribbled caricatures John drew of himself and Yoko. But in your hurry to see the special exhibitions, don’t miss out on some of the lesser-known highlights of the main floor.

The Roots of Rock and Roll now includes folk artist Pete Seeger’s famously decorated banjo head, which has become a symbol of social justice. Cities and Sounds, a permanent exhibit focused on the music that defined various cities across the United States, features Stevie Wonder’s harmonica and Chuck Berry’s original handwritten lyrics to “School Day” and “Carol,” complete with performance notes and crossed-out words.

Photo: Staircase to Hall of Armor - Cleveland Museum of Art by Tim Evanson under CC BY-SA 2.0

Guide Staff Writer
BY: Teresa Doyle Kovich
Guide Staff Writer