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Cleveland's Cultural Heart: University Circle

The Cleveland Museum of Art. The eight-year, $350-million renovation and expansion, completed in 2013, was well worth the wait and money. The project’s 39,000-square-foot atrium serves well as the light-filled centerpiece. A new East Wing is for Impressionist, Contemporary and Modern art collections, and a new West Wing is for Himalayan, Chinese, Indian and Southeast Asian collection. Gallery One’ 40-foot multitouch, microtile screen shows more than 4,100 objects from the permanent collection. (11150 East Blvd.; 888.CMA.0033) 

Also not to be missed is the spectacular Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), which was added to the Cleveland landscape in 2012. It╒s the first U.S. building designed by renowned London architect Farshid Moussavi. It is a sleek, black, and glass and stainless monument to contemporary art. And the interior is even more breathtaking than the outside. (11400 Euclid Avenue; 216.421.8671)

A short walk from The Cleveland Museum of Art is the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, where visitors can see “Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species” (through June 7). The exhibition reflects two decades worth of work by National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore and is free with museum admission. When this exhibit ends, “The World's Largest Dinosaurs," organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York, will take its place through Jan. 3. (1 Wade Oval; 216.231.4600)

Across the street is another amazing venue, the Western Reserve Historical Society, home to The Crawford Auto Aviation Collection. More than 140 antique automobiles, 21 non-car transportation artifacts (motorcycles, bicycles, and boats), 10 aircraft, and three carriages and sleighs. In addition to the museum's permanent collection, visitors can ooh and aah as they encounter the gondola from the Spirit of Goodyear blimp. (10825 East Boulevard; 888.CMA.0033) 

The fall, winter and spring home of world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra is Severance Hall, regarded by music-lovers as one of the world╒s most beautiful concert halls. (The orchestra’s summer home is Blossom Music Center in Peninsula.)  Severance Hall is an architectural gem that opened in 1931. A two-year, $36-million restoration and expansion of Severance Hall was completed in January 2000. The project was undertaken to restore the hall's original detailing, expand its patron amenities and services, retain and enhance its legendary acoustics and support spaces. (11001 Euclid Avenue, 216.231.7300) 

Not too far from Severance is another architectural gem – the Glidden House (shown above), a French Gothic-style mansion built in 1910 by the Glidden Paint family that opened in 1989 as a boutique hotel. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places – its atrium connects the mansion with the new wing, offering a delightful combination of the historic and the contemporary. The new bar has a sophisticated, eclectic atmosphere and hors d╒oeuvres that can make a light meal. (1901 Ford Drive; 216.231.8900)