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CMA reveals landscape plan to include outdoor dining area, skating rink and a boathouse

Posted at 1:25 PM, May 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-02 13:25:15-04

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Museum of Art unveiled a master plan Thursday detailing future improvements envisioned by the museum to some of University Circle’s most recognizable outdoor green spaces, including upgrades to Wade Lagoon and the Fine Arts Garden.

The landscape master plan is meant to address concerns about the conditions and character of the existing landscape surrounding the museum, while also maintaining the historic character. Among the concerns pointed out in the plan is the condition of the Fine Arts Garden, designed in 1928 by the Olmsted Brothers.

The purpose of the plan is the guide future development of the nearly 41 acres of gardens, paths and parkland overseen by the museum.

Fine Arts Garden

Renovations on the space include a complete reconstruction of the crumbling sidewalks that will make the space ADA accessible.

The Fine Arts Garden at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

The plan also suggests storm drainage, site lightning and security systems be added to the Fine Arts Garden.

Some of the more exciting features in the plan include an invisible and reversible skating rink at the lagoon. A portion of the water level of the lagoon would be dropped by +/-12 inches during the skating season.


With the hopes of bringing back a Boathouse similar to the one constructed in 1922, the boathouse would be multi-purpose, serving as a stopping point for landscape ramps at multilevel terraces.

Constructed in 1922 to serve as a recreational boating and skating on Wade Lagoon, the boathouse had two floors, consisting of a concession stand, a skater’s room and restrooms. Around July 1927, about the time the Fine Arts Garden concept design was near completion, the City of Cleveland prohibited the use of boats on the lagoon.

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Illustration of the proposed boathouse.

The Garden Center of Cleveland took over the space to provide resources on gardening, lectures and seasonal planting displays. In June 1959, a flash flood along East Boulevard caused significant erosion, and because of significant erosion, the boathouse was demolished.

Parking and entrance changes

One of the notable changes mentioned in the plan is the improvement of the visitor arrival experience. Currently, the north entrance of the museum serves as a drop-off and pick-up loop for visitors, but it lacks utility for patrons arriving by personal car.

"The experience of a grand arrival is not only lost on them, but finding their way to the lobby, whether via connector tunnel or otherwise, is not the easiest thing to do unless they’ve done it before," the plan says.

Visitors who arrive by car have to park in the garage and walk through the connector tunnel to the museum lobby. The plan recommends improving connections to and from the parking garage and from other directions for both vehicles and pedestrians at the surface or main entrance level.

Read the full plan below.

CMA Landscape Master Plan