Area Museums & Institutions Offer Special MLK Day Programming

Mon 1/20

With schools closed for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, many area institutions not normally open Monday welcome visitors with special programming relating to Dr. King. Most are offering free admission as well.



The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage is one of those not normally open on Monday but it will be open on MLK Day with a full schedule of free programming.

It starts at 10:30am with a sermon by the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss Jr., the now-retired longtime pastor at Cleveland’s Olivet Institutional Baptist Church. The 84-year-old was one of the lions of the civil rights movement; he’ll speak about his work with Dr. King. It takes place at The Temple-Tifereth Israel next door to the Maltz Museum.

Then from 11am-5pm, the museum will host a range of activities, including crafts, scavenger hunts, gallery tours, a 1pm performance by the jazz/pop/soul ensemble Evelyn Wright Quintet and a 3pm screening of the documentary Soundtrack for a Revolution: Freedom Songs from the Civil Rights Era, followed by a talkback with Kyle Kidd. You’ll want to get there early for the concert and film to get a seat in the small theater.



Severance Hall hosts its annual MLK open house from noon-5pm, opening with a 12:15pm concert by the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra; a performance by Dr. Mark Lomax II at 1:30 titled 400: An Afrikan Epic, followed by a panel discussion of the piece; and concluding with a 4:15 performance by the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus, all in the concert hall. There’ll also be ongoing family activities in the lobby and grand foyer, including a I Have a Dream Wall, a library book display, crafts and puzzles, and line dancing with a DJ. It’s all free.




The Akron Art Museum is another institution that will atypically be open Monday from 1-4pm with special free programming designed for children and their caregivers. There’ll be games, storytelling, posing for family snapshots, hands-on activities, such as making collages set to music and working as a team to create a mandala, and the chance to explore the galleries and check out the current special exhibits Open World: Video Games & Contemporary Art The Distance of the Moon, as well as the pieces in the regular collection. Registration isn’t required, but adults must be accompanied by a child to take part in hands-on activities.




Like the Akron Art Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art normally takes a break on Mondays, but not this Monday when it will be open from 10am-5pm to honor Dr. King’s legacy with art, dance, spoken word, music, theater, discussions and educational activities.

There’ll be art activities in the atrium from 11am-4pm, led by guest artist Van Taylor Monroe; family art stories; facilitated in-gallery discussions looking at artists whose work drew on the civil rights movement; live gospel and jazz music by Hubb’s Groove in the Atrium from 11:30am-12:30pm; and a Martin Luther King & Black History Tribute featuring dance, music, poetry and theater performances by youth with the Cleveland Foundation’s Arts Mastery Initiative.




The Rock Hall will be open as usual from 10am-5:30pm, but admission will be free, and there’ll be film screenings, performances and other activities throughout the building all day.

At 10:30am & 3:30pm it will be screening the film Let Freedom Ring, featuring musicians who combined music and message to reflect the issues of their eras. There’ll be family educational sessions at 1:30 and 2:30pm, exploring the work of artists ranging from Cleveland’s such as Screaming’ Jay Hawkins and Kid Cudi to greats such as Mahalia Jackson and Sam Cooke.

The lobby stage will feature live performances by the Rainey Institute Dance Team (1o:30am), Notes for Notes (11:30am), Kyle Kidd (1pm), and The Katy (3pm). There’ll be all-day craft activities, such as making your own protest sign, and Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech will play on a continuous loop in the Main Exhibit Hall.




Even the Greater Cleveland Aquarium is making its bid for the MLK Day out-of-school crowd. It’s once again partnering with the United Black Fund of Cleveland to offer discounted $10 admission from 10am-4pm to each guest who donates $1 to the UBF. The GCA has been doing the event since 2015. Also, in addition to its usual Sharks & Scuba talks, it will be spotlighting important African-Americans in marine science and scuba diving, such as Carl Brashear, the first African American to become a US Navy Master Diver, to Roger Arliner Young, the first African American woman to earn a zoology doctorate in zoology. The “Search for Greatness” scavenger hunt will feature profiles offering clues, with the chance to with an annual family pass..

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