Architectural Summary

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“Since the early decades of the 20th century, the crisp, elegant, and classically-based forms of the Toledo Museum of Art have graced Monroe Street in the Old West End. … We should not forget that the creation of the Glass Pavilion is but the latest chapter in the evolution of the Museum and its architecture. Indeed, since the 1960s, major construction projects and the acquisition of adjacent properties have dramatically altered the Museum and its setting.”
— Richard Putney, Professor of Art History at the University of Toledo, 2003


  • Main museum building opens.
  • Architects Edward B. Green (Buffalo, NY) and Harry W. Wachter (Toledo, OH).
  • A restrained neoclassical structure based on the Greek Ionic style. The façade is low and horizontal, articulated by a row of 16 marble columns, a copper roof, and a frieze of acanthus leaves.
  • Constructed of white marble, the building combined the functions of a museum and an education center with a central auditorium for music and education surrounded by 12 galleries with classroom space, offices, a sculpture court, a library and an auditorium.
  • “One of the nation’s finest mid-size art institutions. With world-class collections of paintings and glass, the museum also is a splendid piece of architecture. A perfectly proportioned neoclassical building.” — Benjamin Forgey, Cityscape, 1993


  • Rear wing addition doubles size of building.
  • Architect Edward B. Green.
  • The addition includes the Little Theater and classrooms on the ground floor, Print Gallery, Ceramics Gallery, the enlargement of the auditorium, and the Gothic Hall on the gallery level.
  • “There is no art museum in the United States, I am sure, which holds a larger place in its community than does that at Toledo. None could have had a more humble beginning.” — R.L. Duffus, The American Renaissance, New York, 1928


  • East and West wings are added to building, tripling the size.
  • Architect Edward B. Green.
  • East Wing addition includes the Peristyle, a concert hall whose name means “an area surrounded by columns,” that appears to be open to the sky. The Peristyle seats 1,750 and was designed with an innovative suspended acoustical ceiling. Opening performance was January 10, 1933 by the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leopold Stokowski.
  • East Wing expansion also includes an Egyptian gallery and the Classic Court on the upper level.
  • West Wing addition includes more classrooms on the ground floor. The gallery level additions include the Cloister, the Great Gallery, and many more.


  • Museum Director Otto Wittmann convinces officials to swing the planned route of interstate I-75 around the back of the Museum, permitting it to remain a well-connected anchor of its Old West End neighborhood.
  • The Museum celebrates the Old West End neighborhood with an exhibition featuring the architecture of its historic homes.


  • Toledo’s Old West End is declared a historic district as one of the largest surviving neighborhoods of late 19th- and early 20th-century houses in the United States.
  • The gracious tree-lined streets of the Old West End 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.


  • 40,000-square-foot renovation in the center core of the building.
  • Architects Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer (NY).
  • The spaces that previously held the Gothic Hall, the trustee room, and the auditorium are recreated to provide an entrance on Grove Place, the grand staircase linking the ground and gallery levels, and the Canaday Gallery for special exhibitions.


  • Center for the Visual Arts constructed.
  • Architect Frank O. Gehry, Pritzker laureate.
  • Boldly sculptural forms, innovative approach to materials, and skewed axiality provides the University of Toledo’s art program with an appropriately contemporary setting.
  • “Gehry’s building is very like a fortress in a field. It shields its undergraduate flock. And yet it is paradoxically playful, and it’s not freestanding. By necessity it is attached to the Toledo Museum of Art.” — Benjamin Forgey, Cityscape. January 1993
  • “Instead of providing a neutral, factory-like setting for college art instruction, the Center for the Visual Arts jars the senses with unusual shapes, materials, and spaces. For students at the University of Toledo, it’s a clinic in three-dimensional thought. And for the Toledo Museum of Art, it’s a major acquisition—an important work of architecture by a major contemporary American architect.” — Steve Litt, Inland Architecture, 1993
  • “The functions for these two buildings are very different … In no way did we want the art school to look like a museum junior. It was very important that this building read as a school of creative art.” — Museum Director David Steadman, Detroit Free Press, December 1990


  • West Wing, Peristyle, and Classic Court renovation.
  • Architects Hammond Beeby and Babka of Chicago directed this phase, working with The Collaborative of Toledo.


  • Professional Building renovation to house community arts organizations and TMA offices.
  • Architects Tolford and Lange.
  • 1939 building originally designed to serve as a medical professionals’ building.
  • Limestone building with recessed entrances accentuated by vertical decoration that continues above the roofline in Art Deco style.


  • Addition of Georgia and David K. Welles Sculpture Garden of 22 modern and contemporary sculptures and landscaped green spaces.


  • Glass Pavilion publicly inaugurated August 27, 2006.
  • Architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA, Ltd.
  • All exterior and most interior walls are made of floor-to-ceiling curved glass panels that blur the barriers between interior and exterior spaces.
  • The Glass Pavilion makes a perfect counterpoint to the dense, rectilinear mass of the Museum’s Monroe Street façade. It also differs from all other structures on the Museum grounds. Low, horizontal, and transparent, the Glass Pavilion invites the outside in.
  • “…The new Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Art … can reawaken the belief in the power of glass to enchant.” — Nicolai Ouroussoff, The New York Times, 2006
  • “[The Glass Pavilion] packs a significant architectural punch. Even more successfully than … the 2004 renovation of the Museum of Modern Art.” — Christopher Hawthorne, The Los Angeles Times, 2006
  • “The Toledo Museum of Art, its directors, and its trustees have done something magnificent. The world will pay close attention.” — Steven Litt, The Cleveland Plain-Dealer, 2006


  • As part of the Museum’s green initiatives, 1,450 solar panels are installed on the roof over the Classic Court and Peristyle to maximize operational efficiency through renewable energy.
  • Produced by First Solar, the 101 kW system is currently one of the largest solar panel installations in the state of Ohio. On a clear, sunny day, the solar modules produce up to 20% of the total electrical demand for the building.


  • Named in honor of Museum patron Rita B. Kern, a new sensory garden was installed adjacent to Parking Lot 1. It contains flowers and herbs, a fountain, and a chef’s garden. In addition to generous support from Rita Kern, the Museum also received a grant, including solar panels, from the First Solar Corporate Charitable Fund at the Toledo Community Foundation to provide power and lighting for the garden Rita B. Kern Garden at the Toledo Museum of Art