Music & Arts

Music & Arts

Cincinnati is really into the arts. We are one of the few cities in the U.S. to enjoy full-time professional orchestra, ballet and opera companies. It’s those three things, on a full-time basis, that actually set Cincy apart from other cities. Full-time orchestras that perform live in the same community for a thriving opera and thriving ballet are not only not common, they are RARE.

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Cincinnati Ballet performing the Nutcracker is one of cincinnati's favorite performing art


Founded in 1963, the Cincinnati Ballet is known for presenting a bold and adventurous array of classical, full-length ballets and contemporary works. The ballet company knows all the classics, but is also focused on pushing the art of ballet forward by commissioning world premiere works.

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Cincinnati is home to not one, not two, but seven playhouses! Spend an evening listening to the words of Shakespeare, Dickens, and Coward at the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, or follow your favorite Broadway touring companies to the seats of The Aronoff Center for the Arts. Spend an evening on a Cincinnati hilltop and visit Playhouse in the Park for an amazing off-Broadway experience, as well as an incredible view of downtown Cincinnati. Have a budding thespian in your family? Enjoy an afternoon show with them at the Cincinnati Children’s Theater! While you’re here, discover some of the local talent by catching a show at the Ensemble Theatre, Know Theatre, or the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater.

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Two Trains Running performance at Playhouse in the Park is a staple in the art community
Playhouse in the Park in Cincinnati is a favorite performing arts venue in cincinnati
front of the Cincinnati Art Museum

Fine Art

Located just a quick walk away from the center of downtown is the Taft Museum of Art, housed in the 200-year-old historic home of Charles Phelps Taft, President William Howard Taft’s half brother. Inside you’ll find the Taft family’s extensive art collection which they bequeathed (along with their home) to the people of Cincinnati.

A few minutes up the road is the Cincinnati Art Museum, one of the oldest art museums in the United States. Founded by The Women’s Art Museum Association in 1881, the museum was lovingly nicknamed “the Art Palace of the West.” Today the museum houses more than 67,000 works that span 6,000 years of history.

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Contemporary Art

In the middle of downtown Cincinnati, you’ll find two contemporary art museums that are free to the public! Spend the day at the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC), which is housed in its own work of art: The Rosenthal Center. The building was designed by Zaha Hadid and was the first museum in the U.S. to be designed by a woman. The CAC is a non-collecting museum, choosing to instead focus on unique exhibitions, performance art, and art that challenges, educates, and entertains.

Right next door is the 21c Hotel + Museum, the first in the 21c’s line of hotel museums throughout the country. The first two floors of the hotel are open 24/7 to visitors looking to admire the traveling exhibitions. Book a stay at the hotel and you’ll find more art in your room, even in the shower! The public museum has hosted the works of artists like Kehinde Wiley, and popular exhibitions including The Future is Female.

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Cincinnati streetcar driving by Contemporary Art Museum in Cincinnati

Symphony Orchestra

Founded in 1894, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is a cherished, Grammy-nominated Cincinnati institution, housed in Cincinnati Music Hall, a National Historic Landmark. The CSO is constantly looking towards the future by commissioning and premiering new works.

The CSO also has its own POP orchestra! Founded in 1977, Cincinnati POPs is a Grammy award-winning orchestra and has appeared on Billboard music charts. Grab your friends and attend one of Cincinnati POPs’ live accompaniments to Harry Potter or Star Wars!

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Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra conductor at a music venue in cincinnati
orchestra and opera performing in Music Hall

A City That Sings

Founded in 1920, the Cincinnati Opera is the second oldest opera company in the United States. Often accompanied by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the opera is known for its partnership with the College Conservatory of Music, and it’s home in Cincinnati Music hall.

Not only is Cincinnati home to one of the oldest opera companies in the country, it’s home to the oldest continuous choral festival in the Western Hemisphere: May Festival. Created in 1873, this two-week festival features a variety of choral groups accompanied by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.


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Public Art

Cincinnati is an art gallery in and of itself thanks to ArtWorks. ArtWorks is a Cincinnati non-profit that believes in transforming people and places through investments in creativity. Founded in 1996, the organization has completed 12,500 public art projects. Thanks to ArtWorks, you’ll find more than 50 murals just in Cincinnati’s downtown, and a variety of sculptures like the beloved Genius of Water located in the center of downtown.

Blink is the largest light art and projection mapping festival in the country! Created in 2017, the four-day event spans 30 blocks and stretches into Northern Kentucky, drawing more than 1 million people and featuring large scale projection mapping, an amazing kick-off parade, live music, and immersive art. The best part? It’s completely free to attend!

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crowd sitting by the Genius of Water sculpture at Fountain Square