Established in 2013, Transformer Station is a privately owned and operated art museum on Cleveland’s west-side. Located in Hingetown (on the corner of W. 29th St & Church Ave), the Transformer Station has quickly become an anchor destination in Cleveland’s rapidly evolving Ohio City neighborhood. The museum hosts four exhibitions annually supported by creative programming. Transformer Station takes a particular interest in bringing the work of leading contemporary artists to Northeast Ohio.
The Transformer Station is an invitation-only exhibition space and does not accept solicitations. It does, however, welcome programmatic collaborations, see below for more information.
Combining a landmark historical building with a contemporary minimalist addition, the Transformer Station has become an anchor destination in Cleveland’s rapidly evolving Ohio City neighborhood. The museum brings a new cultural facility to a mixed residential and industrial neighborhood within walking distance of the restaurants and shops of the Market District and blocks away from the Gordon Square Arts District.
Owned by the Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Foundation (Bidwell Foundation), Transformer Station was established as a non-profit 501c3 Operating Foundation in 2011. The Foundation supports artists and regional arts institutions by sponsoring projects, exhibitions, and programs that encourage creativity and innovation.
Over the past two decades, Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell have gathered an exquisite collection of contemporary art that reflects the state of photography today. Rather than acquire artists canonized by history, the Bidwells concentrate on those in the beginning or middle of their careers. Freshness and innovation appeal to them, as do the challenge and thrill of uncovering and helping support new talent, be it international or local.
Many of the exhibitions produced by Transformer Station feature new acquisitions or site-specific commissions.
As part of its long-term commitment to the arts and culture in the region, the Bidwell Foundation has partnered with the Cleveland Museum of Art to amplify and strengthen its contemporary art offerings, further supporting free, accessible art to Cleveland's historically underserved west side. This partnership provides the Cleveland Museum of Art with its first west side footprint and allows for an off-site project space. For six months each year, the Cleveland Museum of Art will have access to the venue for significant new contemporary art projects. The Transformer Station will serve as a laboratory, think tank and place for the Museum to uncover new opportunities, take risks, and explore new ideas and new media.
Fifty percent of the gallery schedule will be developed by the Bidwell Foundation and most of the work shown will be based on photo-based art and artists who are in the Bidwell Foundation Collection. The remaining half of the year will be developed independently by the staff of the Cleveland Museum of Art.
In addition to exhibitions presented by the Bidwell Foundation and the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Transformer Station hosts talks, performances, and events throughout the year. Join our mailing list to learn more about upcoming events and programs.
Transformer Station welcomes collaborative programming with local and national cultural and civic organizations. The facility is available for private parties and meetings. More information can be requested by email to info@TransformerStation.org. Inquiries should provide a brief description of your event, including guest count, and preferred dates.
The building's original facade was built in 1924 and is one of sixteen substations built by Cleveland’s one-time private transit provider, the Cleveland Railway Company. The substation converted electrical power for the Detroit Avenue Streetcar Line, which carried 19 million riders annually at its peak. The building was used as a transformer station until 1949 when the City of Cleveland offered it for auction. From the early 1980s until 2010, the building housed an artist's foundry until later purchased by the Bidwells in 2011.
The original building is a brick structure with solid, classical proportions, enhanced with intricate brick detailing. In 2011, the Bidwells purchased the property and enlisted Process Creative Studio, an Ohio City-based architectural firm with a reputation for creative re-use and restoration projects, to restore and renovate the Transformer Station. The project ultimately preserved and restored the original building while enhancing and expanding it with an innovative contemporary addition.
The smaller "Crane Gallery" boasts soaring twenty-two-foot ceilings and houses a massive horizontal crane, built by Cleveland’s Armington Crane Company, rated to lift fifteen tons! With the exception of modern environmental controls, the original space has been maintained without major modifications and the original masonry and ironwork have been completely restored.
The addition upgrades the facility for the storage and presentation of art at museum-quality standards and environmental conditions, providing improved public access and creating a flexible multi-purpose creative space for artists and the community. The completed 7,944 square foot facility features approximately 3,500 square feet of gallery space for the display of painting, photography, sculpture, video, and digital media. A catering kitchen supports events, concerts, and lectures. The second floor offers a library and office space for the Bidwell Foundation and FRONT International.
In 2014 Transformer Station and Mid State Restoration Inc. were awarded the “Award of Merit for Masonry Restoration” by the Cleveland Restoration Society and AIA Cleveland.