The museum was founded in 1998 by a local diocesan priest. In preparation for the Jubilee year of 2000, Pope John Paul II had requested that Dioceses across the world dedicate an old building to make space to preserve artifacts from the Diocese. In response to the pope's request, the museum was initially started as a parish project for Holy Family Catholic Church and was housed in the old Holy Family school, located on S. Grubb Street.
The museum, which started as a modest collection that filled four rooms of the old school building, grew to fill over 20 rooms and included 3 fully functioning pipe organs, over 60 oil paintings from 1600 to the present, several significant collections of stained glass, vestments from the 1700s including sets of French damask given by several of the royal families of Europe to the Holy Land.
During a visit in 2003, Italian Cardinal Francesco Marchisano, head of the Vatican Museum at the time, acknowledged our collection as the largest collection of diversified Catholic art in the United States. Since the Cardinal's visit, the museum has continued to acquire fantastic collections from all over the world.
To date, over 200,000 guests have visited the museum, which includes additional dignitaries, political figures, media outlets, and even movie stars. Our guests have come from all over the world and represent a wide variety of religious backgrounds.
In 2020 we were informed that we needed to locate a new home. Therefore, we re-opened in October 2021 under our new name, The Museum of Catholic Art and History, in our new downtown location on the 1st floor of The Catholic Foundation building. While our space is smaller, it was built out specifically for a museum, with museum lighting and display in mind. In this space, we will rotate our collection and continue to host events, exhibitions, and classes. The long-term goal is to move into a larger location where we can display our entire collection and grow while dedicating the existing space to housing all Columbus Diocese-related artifacts from our collection.
The Museum of Catholic Art and History has been recognized by the Vatican as the largest collection of diversified Catholic art in the United States.