The storied history of Akron’s Art Museum has its roots in the year 1922, when Akron was the fastest growing city in the United States. A group of locals artists and philanthropists realized the need for a community art center and formed the Akron Institute of Art, the institution which through years of metamorphosis would eventually become the Akron Art Museum. At its inception, Edwin Couplin Shaw was the Chair of the Committee, and was integral to the institution’s formative years both in vision and reputation; Shaw’s philanthropy had a long history of enabling successful hospitals, community centers, and other pillars of the Akron Community.
The Institution’s beginnings were humble; initially, the Institution was only an art exhibition in the basement of the public library. However, in 1937 an anonymous donor believed in the Institution’s goal of transforming Akron into a nationally noted home of fine art, and provided the means for the Institution to move into the Commins Homestead, a renovated mansion on Fir Hill.
Commins Homestead served as a good home for the Institution for three years, during which time the Institution began to offer classes. However, it was to be short lived, as a fire destroyed the homestead in 1942.
Instead of accepting defeat, the Institution flourished. In 1945, the Institution relocated to 140 East Market St. (the current home of the Summit Artspace, another location hosting our 9th annual show!). After 5 years of rebuilding, the Institution moved once again back into the same public library it started out in. However, instead of just being limited to the basement, the Institution had remodeled the whole library! This location would house the Institution for the longest period of time, until 1980 when the Institution’s name was changed to the Akron Art Museum.
Over the next 47 years, the Museum’s immense collection would grow, until finally in 2007 it moved to its current location on S High Street.
For almost 100 years, the Akron Art Museum has, against all odds, succeeded in Mr.Shaw’s vision to make Akron “a nationally noted home of fine art”, and we at Crafty Mart hope you stop by and see the museum during our 9th annual show on November 25th!