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Who We Are

The Contemporary Arts Center impacts regional and global communities by providing changing arts experiences that challenge, entertain and educate.


In 1939, Betty Pollak Rauh, Peggy Frank Crawford and Rita Rentschler Cushman took the advice of Edward M.M. Warburg, the founding father of the American Ballet and a founder of the Museum of Modern Art. He suggested that rather than stress about finding non-existent art jobs in New York, “Why not starting something in Cincinnati? Plenty of room there. If you decide to try, come and see me and I’ll help you.”

Modern Art Society Floor at Cincinnati Art Museum.

By August of that year, Peggy Frank Crawford, Betty Pollack and Rita Rentschler raised $5000 and created the Modern Art Society (MAS). For almost a year their “office” consisted of a letter file and a portable typewriter set up in one or another living room. Within a few years, the MAS had exhibited Renoir, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Picasso, Beckman, Klee and many more in the lower levels of the Cincinnati Art Museum. In 1952, the MAS changed their name to the Contemporary Arts Center and in 1964 they earned a space of their own in downtown, Cincinnati. In 2003, the CAC moved into the Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art by architect Zaha Hadid. The NY Times called the structure, “the best new building since the Cold War.”

See a visual representation of CAC's history here

To see a complete (albeit in progress!) record of artists and exhibitions at the CAC since 1939, visit "Past" exhibitions.

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