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When an organization presents its history well on its website, we believe that it   . . .

  • Welcomes and informs potential members, clients and donors.
  • Shows how it has changed over the years, responding to meet new needs.
  • Refreshes memories and warms the hearts of long-time members and supporters.
  • Recognizes and honors the leaders and donors who did so much to advance its mission.

After finding that many websites of Cleveland's Jewish organizations offered little or no content on their history (click here) the question arose "Do the websites of Cleveland's major cultural organizations do a better job in this regard?"

In October 2007 we wrote "A few do share their long and distinguished histories on the web, but most say little." Today (May 2010) there has been considerable improvement, as we note below. We list the institutions in the order of their founding year.
 

Western Reserve Historical Society (1867)

The WRHS is Northeast Ohio's oldest major cultural institution but until June 2008 its website had only a few words on its history. Then it added a long, informative page on its history, supported by new pages on its timeline, on its buildings, and about its leaders: lay and professional.

Kudos to the WRHS! To help you find the main History page which oddly is not in the navigation menus, here is the link: www.wrhs.org/about/
Cleveland Institute of Art (1882)

The History page at www.cia.edu/about-us/history has improved considerably, with many images (unfortunately without dates or captions) and biographies of several distinguished former faculty members.  (5/5/2010)
Cleveland Museum of Art (1913)

The CMA's website is new (as of May 2010) and amazing. It offers essential information plus a large sample of the collection, and is customizable for registered users. The web site tour will help visitors enjoy the site. User-friendly, but unfriendly to search engines and to websites that want to link to interior pages. White on black text is not easy to read. The History page (select "About", then "History and Mission") is generous in its text and supplemented by 20 captioned photos - oddly, unrelated to the text and shown in no logical order. When we created this page in 2007, the CMA had no online history. Now we think it has one of the best. See also Treasures of Heaven.
Cleveland Play House (1915)

A History page is informative. But its 536 words of 8 pt solid text in wide lines, with no white space and no images, make it unappealing. But at the bottom of the page there are links to three pdf documents which, in total, do a fine job telling the Play House story. Perhaps some day they will be integrated and shown better. But oddly (as of May 2010) none of these pages  - in fact no page on the website, not even a news release - mentions one of the biggest steps in their 95 year history - their April 2009 decision to move downtown to Playhouse Square. more on the PD pages....
Cleveland Orchestra (1918)

The Cleveland Orchestra is proud of its history. Pictures from its past hang in the Green Room and the nearby halls of Severance Hall. Concert programs have photos of past conductors and the names of past presidents of the Musical Arts Association.

But their website's History page is a dull text-only page. Rewritten in October 2009, it has a list of music directors and some on its glorious past. Much of the page is about recent alliances and the current season. But read in conjunction with the Severance Hall page, their history is done well. In our view, with some images, more on their past leaders and on the Blossom Festival, it would be far better.
 

Cleveland Museum of Natural History (1920)

The link to the History page is www.cmnh.org/about-the-museum/history It is presented one page per decade, which has enabled a detailed timeline of growth, discoveries, programs and exhibits. These pages, which would be much richer with images, are text only.

Much has happened at the museum in recent years but no one has added to the timeline since 2010.  (as of 5/5/2016)

Cleveland Institute of Music (1920)

In May 2010 we find a crisp new website - though sadly with small fuzzy-looking -
Times New Roman - serif font. Happily they retained their history pages which in 2007 were perhaps the best virtual history of a Cleveland cultural organization. Click here. Written for their newsletter during their 75th anniversary year (1995-96), they show how print materials can be effectively re-used on the web. Extensive text, many images and due respect shown to those who helped shape the CIM. The pages have been updated since that time and, we are pleased to note, are now up-to-date. Bravo!
 

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