Our Mission

The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve is a unique archival facility and regional museum that preserves representative bodies of work created by Ohio visual artists and, through ongoing research, exhibition and educational programs, actively documents and promotes this cultural heritage for the benefit of the public.



The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve was founded in 1996 by noted Cleveland sculptor David E. Davis and eight other prominent Ohio artists: Shirley Aley Campbell, David A. Haberman, William Martin Jean, Robert Jergens, Patricia Zinsmeister Parker, Phyllis Seltzer, Phyllis Lester Sloane and Randall Tiedman.

The founders recognized that upon an artist’s demise, important parts of this region’s cultural heritage can be lost when art is abandoned, mishandled, or dispersed. The founding artists believed in the importance of preserving Ohio’s unique visual artistic heritage. The AAWR, its mission of preservation and its University Circle facility is the living embodiment of their commitment.

The founders envisioned a “living archive” – a facility where archived artwork could be preserved, displayed, and studied by the public and scholars alike. The Archive would maintain a representative body of the artists’ work as well as documentation of their lives and careers as Ohio-based artists. Accordingly, the AAWR records oral histories, catalogs exhibition materials and collects related documents on Ohio artists.

Bernice and David E. Davis’ initial contribution to the AAWR provided for the construction of a new facility to house the organization. Completed in the fall of 1999, the facility is located in University Circle, Cleveland’s premiere cultural district. The AAWR facility houses a spacious 1500-foot art gallery, offices, and 108,000 cubic feet of temperature and humidity-controlled storage space.


Equity & Inclusion

The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve (AAWR) is committed to serving the diverse and vibrant communities which surround it, including the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual) populations of the region.

By acknowledging and addressing the deep-rooted systemic inequities which shape our society, the AAWR seeks to provide access, opportunities, and resources for all people to experience and participate in Ohio’s dynamic visual culture.


To achieve these goals, we are dedicated to:

  • Exhibiting regional BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and Disabled artists
  • Employing the talents of BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and Disabled curators
  • Hosting programs that feature and promote the voices of BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and Disabled presenters
  • Creating more equitable organizational Board and Committees
  • Collaborating with local BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and Disability organizations and support their goals
  • Increasing the number of BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and other marginalized artists represented in our permanent collection by establishing funds which offset the financial cost of archiving their work



We are handicap accessible and are willing to accommodate all people including those with special needs. Visitors with special needs are encouraged to contact us before coming to AAWR, so that we can ensure your visit is fulfilling and enjoyable.

Available services include:

  • Large font wall text and hand-outs for the visually impaired, and those in wheelchairs
  • Scheduling a deaf interpreter
  • Special parking accommodations in the museum’s adjacent lot

To set up your visit, please:


The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve is a Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities (Cuyahoga DD) “ALL means ALL” verified organization. All people deserve to have equal access to and be equal participants in all aspects of community life. This includes where a person chooses to live, learn, work, and play. This belief is the foundation of inclusion. It requires all places in the community welcome people of all abilities and all backgrounds and provide opportunities for meaningful inclusion. Cuyahoga DD’s ALL means ALL initiative provides guidance on actions businesses should take to ensure that they are welcoming of all people and able to support their inclusion in all activities, programs and events. Upon successful evidence of meeting this guidance, Cuyahoga DD provides businesses with an ALL means ALL window/door decal (and an electronic copy) to highlight their commitment to inclusion.


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