The Toledo Museum of Art campus is home to architecturally stunning and historic buildings designed by renowned artists. These architectural jewels add to the rich atmosphere of the Museum experience.
Since 1912, the Toledo Museum of Art’s Greek Ionic façade has graced the city as both landmark and legacy. The distinguished low and horizontal white marble building, designed by Edward B. Green and Harry W. Wachter, is articulated by a row of 16 columns, a copper roof, and a frieze of acanthus leaves. It has been renovated and expanded four times since then.
The colonnaded east and west wings are embellished with large, terraced staircases, an expansive lawn, and the TMA sculpture garden composed of 24 exterior objects of art.
In 2008 and 2011, as part of the Museum’s green initiatives, solar panels were installed on the roof of the main building to maximize operational efficiency through renewable energy. Produced by First Solar, the system is currently one of the largest solar panel installations in the state of Ohio.
Opened in 2006, the postmodern Glass Pavilion received Travel + Leisure’s 2007 Design Award for Best Museum. The building was designed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, lead architects of SANAA (Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates), a Tokyo-based firm known for designing attractive and functional museums that relate well to their sites, and for using architectural glass with extraordinary skill. SANAA won the 2010 Pritzker architecture award for its superior designs.
The exterior and many of the interior walls of the Pavilion are made entirely of glass. The roof and interior structural supports are made of steel. Each of the more than 360 panels—many of them curved—that make up the glass walls measures approximately 8 feet wide by 13 ½ feet high, and weighs 1,300 to 1,500 pounds.
The Glass Pavilion’s 74,000 square feet contains a main floor and full basement. Elegantly simple in appearance but complex in organization, it uses no architectural ornament and is forthright in the display of high-tech modern materials. Essential features include a squarish, asymmetrical plan with rounded corners, low profile capped by a flat roof, clean lines, and pure forms.
Center for the Visual Arts
The Center for the Visual Arts (CVA) was designed in 1992 by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank O. Gehry, who has earned international recognition for his buildings’ originality, bold artistic effects, innovative use of materials, and sensitivity to the unique context of individual sites.
Composed of a central block and wings, the CVA is transformed into a V-shaped plan angling toward Monroe Street. Its complex play of forms is generated by varying rooflines, some deeply-set windows, overhanging floors, forms that seem to rotate, and curved and straight walls sheathed in lead-coated copper. By contrast, the quieter entrance façade features simple architectural forms which frame a courtyard bounded by a three-story wall of tinted green glass.
This boldly sculptural building, structurally connected to the east end of the Museum’s main building, is home to the University of Toledo’s Department of Art and the Museum’s Reference Library.
As part of the Museum’s 1933 expansion including new East and West wings, architect Edward B. Green designed the Peristyle Theater.
A classical concert hall whose name means “an area surrounded by columns,” the Peristyle’s most distinguishing architectural feature is a curving row of 28 Ionic columns which surround the main seating area, arranged in tiers reminiscent of theaters of ancient Greece. Inspired by a Greek agora, the two-story Peristyle lobby is animated by a painted Greek frieze.
The Peristyle seats 1,750 and was designed with an innovative suspended acoustical ceiling that appears to be open to the sky. Along with house lights that can change from the light of day to the deep blue sky of evening, the theater was engineered to be as acoustically perfect as possible, resulting in a space that provides a marvelous concert experience.
Professional Arts Building
Built in 1939, the TMA Professional Arts Building at Monroe and Parkwood was originally designed by architects Tolford and Lange to house medical offices. The building was purchased by the Museum in 1998 and renovated by SSOE Studios architect Steven Shrake in 2000.
The building today is a combination of historic and contemporary architecture. The original exterior—limestone with recessed entrances accentuated by vertical decoration that continues above the roofline in Art Deco style—remains intact. The interior, however, was gutted except for floors, columns, main stairwells and the elevator. It now features aluminum, ribbed glass, a stepped motif in the stair raisings and canopies, and a music rehearsal studio. The renovation also included the opening of some two-story spaces to let sunlight into the building’s core.
Today, the Professional Arts Building provides professional spaces for community arts groups including the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo.
Historic Old West End and the Libbey House
The Toledo Museum of Art is situated in Toledo’s Old West End neighborhood, which in 1980 was declared a historic district as one of the largest surviving neighborhoods of late 19th- and early 20th-century houses in the United States. Its gracious tree-lined streets form a restful setting for a late Victorian and Edwardian urban residential area virtually unique in 21st-century America. Comprising approximately 1,000 acres, development of this neighborhood began in 1865 when prosperous merchants, and later industrialists, hired architects who were to shape Toledo in the early years of the 20th century.
Florence Scott Libbey, wife of Museum benefactor Edward Drummond Libbey, was the daughter of Maurice Scott and the granddaughter of Jessup Scott who donated the land on which the University of Toledo was built. The Libbey’s donated the fashionable grounds of her father’s estate on Monroe Street which became the site of the Toledo Museum of Art.
Situated on a double lot overlooking the Museum, the nearly 10,000-square-foot Libbey House was built for the Toledo glass pioneer and his wife. It was designed by architect David L. Stine in a combination of shingle and colonial revival style and completed in 1885.
The interior of the 18-room home features a 30-foot reception hall, wooden grand staircase, and a large stained glass bay. Prominent throughout the home are cherry, oak and mahogany hand-carved woodworks; pillars and mantles; stained, leaded and curved glass windows; and built-in book cases. One of the many fireplaces features hand-painted tile imported from the Netherlands. The third floor, which originally housed the servants, has been converted to bedrooms and an office.
In 1983 the residence was named a National Historical Landmark because of Mr. Libbey’s contributions to the glass industry in the United States.
Click here for a complete architectural summary of the Toledo Museum of Art from 1912 to the present.