Columbus, OH

Columbus events, attractions for weekends outside the classroom

The Lantern
Chihuly glass at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus. Credit: Courtesy of Jennifer Wilson

With Columbus establishments opening their doors once again, Ohio State students can now catch a movie, eat out with friends, attend concerts and experience all the city has to offer with a sense of normalcy.

The vibrant array of entertainment options may seem overwhelming at first, but there is plenty of time to try everything. To help navigate the arts and entertainment life in Columbus, The Lantern compiled a list of just a few of the many fun festivities available to students.

At the Wexner Center for the Arts, students can view art exhibitions, participate in classes and attend film showings, Melissa Starker, spokesperson for the Wexner Center, said. Students can view the gallery for free, with other free or reduced cost events and activities offered as well.

“We’re rolling back into things for fall after a year and a half of things kind of being uncertain and having to do so much offsite,” Starker said. “We’re really leaning into making great experiences for people this coming year.”

Starker said the fall exhibition at the Wexner Center will feature Jacqueline Humphries, an abstract painter. Much of Humphries’ work includes emojis and emoticons and involves a combination of abstract and semi-abstract imagery.

“The fact that this artist works with symbolism that is so familiar to people, I feel like that’s just a fascinating combination, and I can’t wait to see how people respond to it,” Starker said.

Humphries’ exhibition opens at the Wexner Center Sept. 18 and will close Jan. 2, 2022, according to the center’s website . Tickets are free for college students with a valid student ID.

The Columbus Museum of Art is currently showcasing the works of the late Columbus artist, Aminah Robinson, through Oct. 3, with a Vincent Van Gogh exhibition scheduled to open Nov. 12, Betsy Meacham, spokesperson for the museum, said.

Meacham said the museum hosts Bar, Art and Live Music Thursdays throughout the summer. Tickets to BAM Thursdays are $5, with the event running every week from 5-9 p.m.

“It’s a really fun time to be here, get inspired, but also just kind of hang out and connect with your friends,” Meacham said.

Students can also visit over 190 retail, restaurant and entertainment venues located at Easton Town Center, Jennifer Peterson, chief executive at Easton, said. Beyond shopping and dining, Easton offers special events such as yoga and the Easton Challenge, an event inspired by the Tokyo Olympics with challenges such as a wave machine, an archery contest and an obstacle course.

Highlights at Easton include tasting botanical brews at Forbidden Root Brewery, grabbing burgers and shakes at Ivan Kane’s Forty Deuce Cafe and experiencing the highly-Instagrammable greenery, chandeliers and windows at the RH Rooftop Restaurant. Easton is also hosting acoustic concerts every Thursday from 6-9 p.m.

“One of the benefits of Easton is that it’s got something for everyone,” Peterson said. “What we bring is a vibrant environment where anyone can come to escape their everyday.”

Peterson also said the art displays at Easton, including murals, wallscapes and installations, contribute to the visitor experience. Launched in June, the Central Park Fountain takes a former restaurant and transforms it into a floral display.

“We’ve made it a strategic imperative to have public art here and to showcase the talent in Columbus, and we feel really passionate about that,” Peterson said.

Easton is not the only place choosing to highlight art and talent. The Center of Science and Industry in downtown Columbus showcases programs such as the Animation Academy exhibition and COSI’s virtual Color of Science program, which shines a spotlight on diverse figures in the STEM field, Abby Poklar, vice president of philanthropy at COSI, said.

“We have a great program called the Color of Science, which is our diversity program essentially, and it’s all around how we elevate and highlight the work of diverse professionals working in the field of STEM,” Poklar said.

These programs are joined by other new exhibitions such as “¡Cuba!,” a joint project with the American Museum of Natural History that places Cuba’s history and culture on display, Poklar said.

The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens will begin offering activities to students in the fall as well, beginning with the Harvest Blooms exhibition from Sept. 25 through Oct. 15, Jennifer Wilson, director of marketing and communications for the conservatory, said. The conservatory also hosts the Pumpkin Aglow series, which begins Oct. 13 and features hundreds of carved pumpkins along with other Halloween-themed features.

The Pumpkins Aglow exhibit at the conservatory has sold out during the past two years, Wilson said. Tickets can be purchased for the special event on the conservatory’s website .

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