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Exploring the Discovery District’s Cultural Icons

Get to know Columbus’ main library, art museum and two colleges—all located in the exciting Discovery District

March 2, 2020


In Columbus’ Discovery District, a few extraordinary institutions laid the foundation for a wave of investment that’s visible today.

The neighborhood, located between 5th Street, I-71, I-670, and I-70, earned its name in the 1970s for being rooted in education, arts, and culture and promising endless possibilities and “discovery.” Even with these neighborhood anchors, the Discovery District wasn’t always a thriving place. Today, the Discovery District is leveraging its renowned cultural and education institutions to draw an even broader mix of investment, to the tune of $600 million in recent years, led by a surge in residential development.

Here’s a closer look at a few of the iconic nonprofit and education institutions anchoring the Discovery District.

Columbus Metropolitan Library

  • Noteworthy: The main library opened in 1907 following a $200,000 gift from industrialist Andrew Carnegie.
  • Impact: In addition to tens of thousands of books, the main library provides the public with free WiFi, children’s reading and homework assistance, art displays, genealogy services, and more.
  • What’s new: A $32 million modernization project completed in 2016 connected the library with the Topiary Park and updated the front plaza on Grant Avenue, among other improvements.

Columbus Museum of Art

Columbus Museum of Art
  • Noteworthy: In 1878, the Columbus Museum of Art became Ohio’s first chartered museum.
  • Impact: The museum welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors annually for creative experiences, engaged learning, and connectivity.
  • What’s new: In 2015, a 50,000-square-foot wing was added to the museum in a $43 million expansion and improvement project.

Columbus State Community College

Columbus State Community College
  • Noteworthy: Columbus State attracts students from a diverse array of backgrounds and, in fact, more than 130 countries are represented in the student body.
  • Impact: With an enrollment of 27,312, the college injects an energetic vibe in the Discovery District. Columbus State has transfer agreements with more than 35 colleges, including the Ohio State University. Additionally, high school students can earn college credit before they even graduate.
  • What’s new: In 2019, the school celebrated the opening of Mitchell Hall, a $34.5 million Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts building, named for renowned restaurateur Cameron Mitchell of Cameron Mitchell Restaurants. The community college also recently established the Columbus State Community Partners to promote investment in surrounding real estate.

Columbus College of Art & Design

Columbus College of Art & Design
  • Noteworthy: Established in 1879, CCAD is one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious art and design schools. CCAD is in the top 25 fashion schools in the world and in the top 10 of design schools in the US.
  • Impact: “Together, CCAD and Columbus are a powerful combination: CCAD provides the education, and the city provides networking opportunities that launch careers into both the local and international creative industries.” -Dr. Melanie Corn, President
  • What’s new: In 2018, the new $1.75 million Cloyd Family Animation Center opened with virtual reality and stop-motion filming capabilities.

These institutions have made an indelible mark on the surrounding Discovery District. Even more remarkable is the number of others supporting this unique neighborhood, including BalletMet, Cristo Rey Columbus High School, and Franklin University. See a full list here.

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