Cincinnati Museum Center: Cincinnati, OH

Year:

1933

Cincinnati Union Terminal was designed in 1930 by French architect Paul Philippe Cret in a monumental Art-Deco style, with murals by German artist Winold Reiss. The building is dominated by a ten-story half-dome entrance hall—the largest structure of this type at the time. It remains the second largest half-dome in the world.

Immediately after opening in 1933, the Terminal faced a series of disasters: floods in 1933 and 1937, the Great Depression, World War II, and the postwar decline of rail travel. Even as traffic through the station continued to fall, the building was too expensive for the city to demolish. An advocacy group including members of the Ohio Historical Society and staff from local museums and universities nominated the building for the National Register of Historic Places and raised $400,000 to save it from demolition. In 1977 Cincinnati Union Terminal was designated a National Historic Landmark.

In the 1980s the Cincinnati Historical Society and Museum of Natural History relocated to the station. The Children’s Museum and a theater moved in shortly thereafter. Subsequently, the people of Cincinnati raised $33 million through a referendum and donations. In 1995 the individual museums merged to form an umbrella organization, the Cincinnati Museum Center. From 2016 to 2018, the Museum Center closed for a $228 million restoration project which substantially rehabilitated the building. In 2019 the building added a new occupant, the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust and Humanity Center.

Photographer:

Melissa Link