Art Museum in Downtown Columbus, Ohio

the front of the Columbus Museum of Art

I was looking for something fun and, because we’ve got a vacation coming up, low cost to do in the capital city last weekend. Natalie did a bit of research and found that the Columbus Museum of Art is absolutely free on Sundays!

The entry way of the Columbus Museum of Art as viewed from the second floor.
The entrance of the Columbus Museum of Art as viewed from the second floor. You’ll either pay (Monday through Saturday) or check in (free on Sundays) at the desk on the right. The parking lot and entrance is at the rear of the musuem.

I wasn’t sure I would love the visit. I enjoy art, I really do. But I’m not the type that can stand in front of a painting for half an hour, admiring the brush strokes and drawing parallels between the work in front of me and social systems in Paris in the 1930s. (I’m obviously making that up.)

An entryway up marble stairs and through a set of arches. Blue and white pots hold large green plants.
The steps into the museum from the Broad Street entrance. This entrance may be closed, but it’s still beautiful!

I was pleasantly surprised. In addition to rooms and rooms of art, there was a little something for everyone.

The Art Museums Interactive Exhibits

One of the first rooms we entered was the Wonder Room. If you have children, you’ll want to block out some time to spend here. This room features colorful textile works and is an interactive environment for children and families. Children can explore the tunnel and quiet tucked away spaces or take a spot at one of the tables to create their own pieces.

A tunnel made of fabric art in the Wonder Room at the art museum in Columbus, Ohio.
Children enjoyed exploring the tunnel through the textiles in the Wonder Room.

The fun isn’t limited to the littles, though. There are plenty of boards located throughout the museum where you can record your thoughts on provided sticky notes. Then you can add them to the growing collection on the wall. The question may be about a piece of art or may be a writing prompt about something in your life.

Bulletin board of yellow sticky notes inviting visitors to join the conversation.
You’re invited to “join the conversation” at several boards in the art museum.

You’re also encouraged to “imagine the possibilities” through sculpture. The museum provides tables and chairs, small sheets of aluminum foil and a display space for your finished project. Natalie and I spent some time sculpting with the provided materials. We added them to the display. If you see mine, I apologize. I’m afraid it isn’t very good.

A black wall with white cubes to display art work. The art work is made of foil.
We made our own foil sculptures and placed them on display. Please don’t look for mine. It’s actually quite bad!

As you tour the halls of art work, there are a few paintings that provide a more interactive experience. In front of the paintings there were tables with puzzle pieces corresponding to the painting on the wall. During our visit we saw several older children working the puzzles.

Experiencing the Light at the Art Museum

My favorite part of the museum was the light. The entire museum was beautifully lit, thanks to the many large windows. As a photographer (even an amateur one), finding good light makes me happy.

A young woman poses in front of a wall of windows (left) and wearing a mask (right).
A willing model and amazing light? That was a dream come true! Masks were required, but we did have some time in a room by ourselves.

Although masks were required, there were a few moments in an otherwise empty room when I persuaded Natalie to pose for me. It’s nice to have a willing model!

Parking and More at the Art Museum

If you do go to the art museum, be aware that parking is a $5 fee. However, if you purchase something in the Museum Store, they do validate for any purchase over $5. Natalie purchased a sticker for her water bottle (she collects them) and we threw in a piece of candy to get to $5.50 which made parking free.

The Museum Store at the art museum in Columbus Ohio.
The Museum Store. Be sure to have them validate for free parking!

If you visit around lunch time, you can visit the museum’s on-site cafe, Schokko. We weren’t yet hungry during our visit, so we skipped it this time. Several years ago I met a friend there for lunch. I don’t remember much about the meal except that mine came with strawberry soup, which was served cold. I’d never had strawberry soup before and it was quite good, which is probably why the memory stuck with me all this time.

A cafe inside the art museum
If you’re hungry the Columbus Museum of Art has a cafe on-site.


We hope you’ve enjoyed FindingOhio with us today. We’re always on the lookout for cheap and free things to do in the state because we know that entertaining kids, and ourselves, can get expensive. If you have any suggestions for activities that are either low cost or free, reach out to us. We’ll do our best to share a review!

Please take a look around, perhaps check out the Ohio day trips section. And remember, as always, we appreciate you sharing our content to your social media.

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