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Cincinnati's Eden Park: 186 Acres of Art, Theater and Nature
Eden Park is one of many city parks owned and operated by the Cincinnati Park Board. Three major cultural landmarks are located on the park’s 186 acres; Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and Krohn Conservatory. The park also features MirrorLake, a gazebo, gardens, and scenic overlooks of the Ohio River valley.
EdenPark is located in the Mt.Adams community of Cincinnati. The park was purchased in 1859 and began as the designation for the city’s water supply. Early on the city identified that the area could also be used as a city park. Much of the land was given to the city by Nicholas Longworth, who was once the wealthiest man in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Art Museum
The Cincinnati Art Museum is one of the oldest art museums in the United States and is the largest Art Museum in Ohio, with an extensive collection of over 60,000 objects. In addition to displaying its own collections, the museum hosts national and international exhibitions. General admission is free.
Following the success of the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876, the Women’s Art Museum Association was formed with the intention of bringing an art institution to the Cincinnati area. By 1881 the Cincinnati Museum Association was incorporated. Construction of the museum building was completed in 1886.
At that time, public art museums were a new trend in the eastern United States. The trend had not yet reached as far west as Cincinnati. When the museum building was completed in EdenPark, it became known throughout the world as “The Art Palace of the West.”
Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park was founded in 1959 by a college student, Gerald Covell, who had an artistic vision for a professional theatre in Cincinnati. He worked with community leaders to create the Playhouse, which originally was held in the park’s shelter house. In 1960, the shelter house was converted to a 166 seat theater. Opening night of Meyer Levin’s Compulsion was held at the Playhouse’s opening night on October 10, 1960.
John Hillerman was in the cast of Compulsion , and went on to a successful film and television career. He was among the first of many actors who have appeared at the Playhouse, to include: Scott Bakula, Roscoe Lee Browne, David Canary, Kristin Davis, Patty Duke, Raúl Esparza, Bonnie Franklin, Swoosie Kurtz, Cleavon Little, Donna McKechnie, Estelle Parsons, Anthony Perkins, Charlotte Rae, Lee Roy Reams, Lynn Redgrave, Mercedes Ruehl, Gary Sandy, Susan Stroman, Daniel J. Travanti, Cicely Tyson, Sam Waterston and Henry Winkler.
With sell out crowds, the Playhouse quickly outgrew the shelter house, and an addition to the shelter house. In 1968, the Robert S. Marx Theater, named after a Cincinnati philanthropist, opened with Camino Real by Tennessee Williams. The Marx Theater won architectural awards for its design and flexibility. The theater has been extensively renovated since then due to record attendance and a successful capital campaign. In 2004, the Playhouse was recognized with the Regional Theater Tony Award, for its artistic achievements and contributions to the growth of theater nationally.
Year round acting classes for all ages are held at the theater, and in school touring performances are held in area schools. The Theater hosts internships for young actors who participate in the Playhouse Touring Company.
Krohn Conservatory was built in 1933 during the art deco era, and houses more than 3500 plant species from around the world. EdenPark’s first greenhouses were built in the 1880s, and were used for growing plants. In 1902, a new greenhouse designed for public displays was opened. The first year a chrysanthemum show was held, and more than 300,000 people visited the greenhouse in the first two years.
Conservatory collections include the Bonsai Collection, DesertGarden, Floral Display, Orchid Display, Palm House and Tropical House. Special exhibits and programs are held throughout the year, including the most popular spring butterfly show, where thousands of butterflies are let loose in one of the gardens.