Every major city has its fair share of oddities for the curious traveler to scope out, and Cleveland, with its 220-year history, is no different.
Whether you’re looking for unusual artwork, bizarre installations, or unique museums, Cleveland has numerous quirky sites for the weekend adventurer.
Opened in 2011 in Lakewood, Ohio, this museum housed in a former church presents religious statues recovered from religious institutions that have closed, as well as statues donated from private collections.
All pieces which come to the museum are meticulously restored by a team of experts, letting visitors see the beautiful craftsmanship of artists who span decades and nationalities.
Originally commissioned for Standard Oil of Ohio, this somewhat bizarre artwork was eventually gifted to the city of Cleveland and now rests at Lakeside Avenue near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The “FREE” refers to the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Monument which would have originally been opposite the artwork at its planned Euclid Avenue home, although removed from this context the installation takes on a more confounding nature for visitors.
This unusual installation is a mix of offbeat art, culture jamming and potentially the proclamations of a mad prophet. Started sometime in the 1980s, the Tonybee tiles are works which have been affixed to roadways throughout the United States, all containing strange messages pertaining to resurrection, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 and the planet Jupiter.
Thought to be in reference to the writings of Arnold J. Toynbee, or possibly Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Toynbee Convector,” both of which encouraged mankind to embrace bold, worthwhile changes, the tiles were created by an artist as yet unidentified.
Cleveland’s addition to the collection can be found at the crossing of West Third Street and West Prospect Avenue.
Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery houses numerous funeral monuments, but none are as intriguing or locally famous as the Haserot Angel.
Named for Francis Haserot, whose grave the statue overlooks, the Haserot Angel is known for its distinctive weathering resulting in the appearance of black tears streaming down its face. A great place to visit come October.
The exteriors for Ralphie’s home in the beloved holiday classic A Christmas Story were filmed right here in Cleveland. Through the work of dedicated fans, the home used is now available for tours and a connected museum delivers insights about the filming, along with a gift shop.
What’s most unusual about this site, though, is that the owner completely gutted and renovated the home, then meticulously redesigned it to match its onscreen counterpart.
Most films’ interiors are shot on soundstages, and A Christmas Story was no different, with the home’s original interiors not matching the film at all. This extra effort from the home’s owner to make the film come alive is truly remarkable.
Part work of art, part literary experiment, part alternate reality geography project, the Kcymaerxthaere series of “historical” markers placed throughout the world by author and filmmaker Eames Demetrios give insights into a fictional reality said to “intersect” with our own at each marker’s location.
Found in Cleveland Heights on Perkins St., this marker tells of the Warres, one of a number of bizarre, otherworldly species featured in Demetrios’ work. Check it out if you’re in the area and willing to unlock a door with the key of imagination…
Travelers heading over the Hope Memorial Bridge going to or coming from an Indians game are sure to notice the large pillars marking the way which look like something out of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis or Tim Burton’s Batman.
These statues are known as “The Guardians of Traffic” and were erected along with the bridge in 1932. Each guardian holds a different vehicle in its hands, meant to portray the history of ground transportation.
Found at the intersection of Euclid Avenue and East 14th Street, the chandelier was installed in 2014 for display in Cleveland’s historic Playhouse Square theatre district, one of the nation’s leading areas for theatrical performances.
Stop by for a show, and while you stroll the district and partake in local shopping opportunities you can marvel at the 20ft tall chandelier which features 4,200 individual crystals.
Housed in the Dittrick Museum of Medical History at Case Western Reserve University is the largest collection of antique contraceptive devices in the world, accompanied by the detailed history of each.
With over one thousand items on display, the facility originated as a private “doctor’s museum” before opening its doors to the public. Visiting hours are 9-4:30 M-F, excepting Wednesday which is 9-7.
More Bizarre Artworks
In addition to the giant stamp, Cleveland has a number of other unusual art installations for the curious to seek out.
The Bicycle Rim Flower visible from I-77 is a 35-ft. tall piece made of old bicycle tires crafted into the shape of a dandelion.
“The Politician: A Toy” is an imposing bit of artwork currently residing at the Cleveland State University campus.
Lastly, the Tin Man is a particularly unusual piece adorning the roof of the Reader Roofing company.
Stay on the Lookout
There could be more Cleveland oddities out there to be found, so keep your eyes peeled. And to receive more insights about great activities in and around Cleveland, along with ways to improve your Cleveland business, make sure to follow Sixth City Marketing’s blog!