May Centennial Gift: Cleveland Foundation Day on Wade Oval

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Following record-breaking attendance at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo as part of its April centennial gift, the Cleveland Foundation has a May gift just as special to give to the community – Cleveland Foundation Day on Wade Oval – will celebrate the longtime support the foundation has provided to four cultural institutions in University Circle: Cleveland Botanical Garden, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Natural History and Western Reserve Historical Society. May 24 will be the first free Saturday ever for all four Wade Oval institutions, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

“We are pleased that our May centennial gift to the community will make the first-class institutions on Wade Oval available to all Greater Clevelanders,” said Robert E. Eckardt, executive vice president of the Cleveland Foundation. “This concentration of cultural institutions is unmatched anywhere in the world. As part of Memorial Day weekend festivities, we invite the community to take advantage of this cultural heart of our city.”

Each institution is offering something unique to visitors on Cleveland Foundation Day on Wade Oval, in recognition of the nearly $50 million in collective support the foundation has provided them throughout the past 100 years.

Because the Cleveland Museum of Art always offers free admission, the Cleveland Foundation has made it possible for the museum to offer a special gift on May 24: all available public tickets to the Van Gogh Repetitions exhibition will be free for the first 500 visitors. The special exhibition is scheduled to close on May 25.

“The Cleveland Museum of Art is delighted to be among the great institutions included in Cleveland Foundation Day on Wade Oval,” said Fred Bidwell, interim director of the Cleveland Museum of Art. “The Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Foundation have a long and rich history of collaboration, working to give back to the community. The museum is committed to meaningful community engagement, and we are grateful to the Cleveland Foundation for its significant support of our efforts.”

Cleveland Botanical Garden will debut its highly anticipated Nature Connects exhibit, which will feature 14 LEGO brick sculptures depicting plants and animals.

“This will be the first time the Botanical Garden is able to offer free admission on the opening day of a major attraction, and it’s thanks to our longtime partner, the Cleveland Foundation,” said President Natalie Ronayne. “We celebrate the foundation’s generosity to the Garden and the impact its support enables us to achieve in our community.”

As part of the Cleveland Foundation gift, free admission to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History will include free entry to Shafran Planetarium for the first time ever.

“The Cleveland Foundation has been a longtime supporter of the Museum, especially our education and science initiatives, and we are honored and delighted to be part of this historic celebration of Cleveland’s legendary cultural district on Wade Oval,” said Dr. Evalyn Gates, executive director and CEO. “The Cleveland Foundation’s gift to the community has allowed us to open a window into the universe through free admission to the Shafran Planetarium, and to invite the community to explore science and nature – past, present and future!”

For Cleveland Foundation Day, the Western Reserve Historical Society has extended its popular Dior & More – For the Love of Fashion exhibit through May 25. WRHS will have curators and experts available in the Crawford Auto Aviation Collection, as well as in other exhibits. Tour guides in the Hay-McKinney House and the Research Library will answer questions from visitors.

“Our mission includes sharing the history of Northeast Ohio with the public. This wonderful opportunity provided by the Cleveland Foundation means we will be sharing with many more people than we normally see in a day,” said Kelly Falcone-Hall, interim CEO. “We hold in our archives the papers of the Cleveland Foundation, so we will select a number of beautiful examples from the early days of the foundation for the public to view in our Research Library.”

On May 24, University Circle Inc. will offer free shuttle service between the Wade Oval institutions and to/from both Louis Stokes VA Medical Center garages (the patient garage on Magnolia Drive and the employee garage on E. 105th Street), which will be free to Cleveland Foundation Day visitors. Visitors are being encouraged to carpool or take the RTA’s HealthLine to the Adelbert Road or Ford Road station. For more information, go to www.rideRTA.com

Many Greater Clevelanders have taken advantage of the foundation’s previous “Cleveland Foundation Day” gifts to the community. Cleveland Foundation Day on the RTA on Jan. 16 led to a 25 percent increase overall on RTA buses and trains. Cleveland Foundation Weekend on NorthCoastHarbor on Feb. 22 and 23 brought a record 16,450 visitors to Great Lakes Science Center, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s 8,000 visitors represented a 500 percent increase over a typical Sunday. March’s Cleveland Foundation Day at Cleveland International Film Festival drew the biggest Monday audience in the Festival’s 37-year history, with nearly 8,000 attendees. April’s Cleveland Foundation Day at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo drew a record-breaking 35,700 visitors.

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Established in 1914, the Cleveland Foundation is the world’s first community foundation and one of the largest today, with assets of $2.1 billion and 2013 grants of $89 million. Through the generosity of donors, the foundation improves the lives of Greater Clevelanders by building community endowment, addressing needs through grantmaking, and providing leadership on vital issues. The foundation tackles the community’s priority areas – economic transformation, public-school improvement, youth development, neighborhood revitalization, and arts advancement – and responds to the community’s needs.

For more information on the Cleveland Foundation, please visit www.ClevelandFoundation.org/Purpose and follow at www.Facebook.com/ClevelandFoundation or @CleveFoundation on Twitter.

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