Exhibit Columbus came to an end last weekend. The modern architectural program featured 18 pieces displayed across the city for a three month period.
Organizers say it’s difficult to say goodbye to the popular installations. Organizers started working on the exhibition two years before it was open to the public. Most of the pieces will soon be dismantled and moved to a permanent location.
Erin Hawkins, the marketing director of the Columbus Visitors Center, says they’ve given out about 4,000 exhibit maps, and around 500 people paid for guided walking tours.
“Downtown has been more alive in the past three months than it has been in many, many years.”
Organizers estimate that overall the event brought in about 50,000 people.
“Just traffic, the number of people coming through our visitors center, has increased by 78 percent during that three month period the exhibition was running,” Hawkins says.
Local businesses also saw an increase in foot traffic.
Rachelle Cole, the general manager of Gramz Bakery, says in the four years they’ve owned the shop, other events never made this much of an impact.
“We had a couple from Philadelphia that was here, and they stayed for like a week just to do Exhibit Columbus, that’s it,” Cole says.
The Theoretical Foyer sits on the corner of 7th and Washington Street. It displays 2,300 brightly covered bricks that were made in Columbus. It’s just one of the installations that will stick around at least through next year. At that point, like some of the other pieces, its future is up in the air.
The Conversation Plinth sits outside the library and it’s a fan favorite. Richard McCoy, the director of Landmark Columbus and one of the organizers of the exhibit, says it will be taken down by the end of the year.
“The other pieces, we’re in negotiations with either the site owner or in many cases with the folks that want to take it to their property in a public realm,” McCoy says. “So, we’re really excited about that.”
McCoy says the city always intended for the pieces to be temporary, but some could end up being permanent fixtures around town. He says the main goal of the project was to increase the community’s quality of life.
“I think in these terms, we really succeeded,” McCoy says. “Downtown has been more alive in the past three months than it has been in many, many years.”
Organizers say Exhibit Columbus doesn’t end here. It will be an annual event. They’re organizing a symposium for 2018.