by Michael C. Butz
The Western Reserve Historical Society used its 2016 annual meeting on Dec. 6 not only to look back at the past year’s successes but also to look ahead to 2017, a celebratory year that will mark its 150th anniversary.
Chief among the evening’s announcements were new details concerning the historical society’s forthcoming Cleveland Starts Here exhibition, a permanent exhibition meant to serve as a starting point for the exploration of the social, creative, economic, political and cultural history of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio that will open in November 2017 in the Cleveland History Center’s Reinberger Gallery in University Circle.
The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation was revealed to be the Cleveland Starts Here’s title sponsor thanks to a $500,000 gift that will support both the $2.5 million project’s installation and its digital portal, which will provide global audiences access to WRHS archives and artifacts. Artist renderings of how Cleveland Starts Here might appear in the 3,500-square-foot gallery also were unveiled at the meeting.
WRHS president and CEO Kelly Falcone-Hall told about 200 WRHS members and stakeholders in attendance that Cleveland Starts Here is the type of exhibition the historical society is well-suited to host.
“As you walk through the Cleveland History Center, you’re surrounded by Cleveland and Northeast Ohio history, but what this site has lacked … is a cohesive narrative that really ties it all together,” she said. “Whether you’re new to the area or you’ve been here your entire life, there needs to be a place where you can come experience this history.”
Morton L. Mandel, chairman and CEO of the Mandel Foundation, was unable to attend the annual meeting but said in a statement that Cleveland Starts Here will play an important and inspiring educational role.
“We are delighted to partner with the historical society on this project that inspires pride in our city and region, and catapults incredible stories about our hometown to national and global audiences. By providing online access to the stories of great leaders and events in society, we believe that this project has the power to capture human spirit and inspire excellence in our school children, in our families and in our leaders,” he said.
In addition to the opening Cleveland Starts Here, a number of other WRHS events were announced for 2017, highlighted by “Somewhere in Time: Guess Who’s Turning 150,” a birthday celebration scheduled for Jan. 28 at the Cleveland History Center. cv
Lead image: The Euclid Beach Grand Carousel at the Western Reserve Historical Society. Photo | Michael C. Butz