Akron Art Museum wows with Norman Rockwell exhibit

Robert Checkal

“When I say the word ‘museum,’ what do you think?”

“One word: boring,” my brother, Andrew, said without hesitation.

I guess my younger brother has the same mentality as a majority of the population. But with one trip to Akron’s historic district, the architecture of the Akron Art Museum alone commands attention. The massive glass and steel design astounds, inviting you inside the building out of sheer curiosity. Unlike the surrounding structures, the building doesn’t maintain a casual rectangular, circular or even triangular design. The building is simply unique, and although oddly shaped, it is a work of art all on it’s own — and that’s just the exterior.

Upon entering, take advantage of the cost-efficient student discount of only $5 per ticket, then take a look around. The building is composed of a few main show areas. Two are on the first floor to your left and the larger displays are upstairs. On the first floor you can grab some coffee at Jazzman’s or peruse the gift shop.

On the first floor, you’ll find an amazing showroom dedicated to “The African American Experience: Children’s Book Illustrations by Kadir Nelson.” The other exhibit features the Akron Art Museum collection from 1850-1950 offering original works from Northeast Ohio artists. The most appealing was called “Winter Evening” by Raphael Gleitsmann. The scene portrays the busy streets of Akron’s downtown in the 1930’s. It’s colorful, bright and, even in a time of depression, displays the beauty of a developing city.

Travel upstairs and you will see the varied collection of the Akron Art Museum from 1950 to the present. The first piece you see is an amazing montage by Lari Pittman entitled “Thankfully, I will have had learned to break glass with sound.” It features deity-like males with radiant lights glimmering off of their heads and gorgeous imagery surrounding them. The vibrant color and beautiful images are breathtaking. The rest of the exhibit features brilliant art from all around the globe. Even an original Warhol is featured.

The main exhibit presently is “American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell.” Even if you aren’t a fan, seeing the exhibit sheds a brand new light on his work. Rockwell’s artistic approach is showcased throughout the extremely inclusive exhibit, and it allows you to view his thought processes in an objective way.

No matter what your reason for going may be, the Akron Art Museum is a highly recommended stop in downtown Akron. It’s innovative, serene and eye-opening.

Contact all correspondent Robert Checkal at [email protected].