Cleveland Institute of Art dates back to 1882 with the establishment of a women’s college in the home of Sarah Kimball. Starting with just one student and one teacher, that school grew into a Cleveland institution of learning that now enrolls over 600 students and offers courses and galleries in the recently-constructed George Gund Building. Courses include traditional art mediums such as drawing and painting to photography and graphic design. The school also offers rotating exhibits in its galleries that are open to the public.
The history of the Cleveland Institute of Art begins in 1882 when Sarah Kimball opened the Western Reserve School of Design for Women. Kimball began by offering classes in her home. By the 1890s, Kimball renamed the school the Cleveland School of Art and offered classes for both men and women at Cleveland's City Hall. In 1948, the school changed its name to the Cleveland Institute of Art.
The school has grown from a single instructor to offering fifteen majors from painting and drawing to recent programs such as game design. Students and faculty created art projects that were part of President Roosevelt’s WPA art program during the Great Depression. Federal support of the arts proved crucial during these years, and in World War II, the talents of the school's students supported the war effort through courses on mapmaking and medical drawing. The school later diversified its roster of classes after the war to include a variety of collegiate courses.
The institution supports a variety of rotating exhibitions of work by students, faculty, and area artists in the Reinberger Gallery. The Annual Student Exhibition allows students to take the lead in creating exhibits and interpreting their work and the work of others. During many of the institution's exhibitions, some of the works on display are available for purchase.