Dayton Art Institute’s Art Ball: Celebrating 100 years of a community institution

This year’s Art Ball theme is “Icon”

For those who love partying for a good cause, the Miami Valley offers a wide range of options. In many ways, the Dayton Art Institute’s Art Ball remains in a class by itself.

This year’s gala, the 62nd Art Ball, is slated for Saturday, June 8. Here are just a few of the ingredients that make this annual summer bash so special.

This charity event was voted the Best Gala in’s annual Best of 2018 contest.

>> BEST OF DAYTON: Dayton Art Institute a big winner in its biggest year

It’s Dayton’s oldest black tie gala 

The DAI formal event traces its roots back to the Junior League of Dayton’s Christmas Ball, also known as the Holiday Ball. Beginning in 1957, these elegant parties were organized by the Junior League of Dayton and held at the museum with proceeds benefiting the DAI.

Dayton Daily News Women’s Editor Elizabeth Lyman got it right when she predicted that the first gala “has promise of establishing a precedent.”

The annual party moved to the spring in 1963; in 1965 the museum’s Associate Board, comprised of 32 couples in the community, took over planning and execution of the event.

>> How the Art Ball became Dayton’s swankiest night of the year

A centennial theme

Each year, Art Ball chairs are invited to choose a piece from the permanent collection as the basis of the year’s theme. But this year, to mark the centennial celebration of the museum, Michelle Kaye and Todd Crawford, this year’s chairs, chose “Icon” for this year’s theme.


The elegant setting makes this party special

Dayton’s gorgeous art museum looks even more spectacular on the night of the Art Ball, which begins with a VIP cocktail hour for major donors then continues with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres for all 850 formally attired attendees.

A highlight of the evening is always the formal dinner served in the galleries, where patrons are surrounded by artistic treasures.

After the meal, guests will dance in both of the Gothic Cloisters and can spend time in the outdoor lounge setting with its beautiful view of downtown Dayton.

>> The best ways to get glammed up and give back this year

Credit: E.L. Hubbard

Credit: E.L. Hubbard

The party helps ensure the future of the museum 

“The Art Ball continues to be the second most profitable fundraiser for the DAI,” says the museum’s director Michael Roediger. “Funds raised support the care of the facility and the collection as well our educational programs. It’s as much a friend-raiser as it is fundraiser.”

For many years, funds raised by the event supported the museum’s permanent acquisitions fund, enabling the museum to add many works of art to its permanent collection. Pieces acquired include “Allegory of Summer and Winter” by Giovanni Battista Pittoni; “Wolfeboro II”; “The Flea Hunt” by Gerrit van Honthorst; and “Sea Change” by Helen Frankenthaler.

In 2006, Art Ball proceeds conserved one of the museum’s most recognized pieces, “Joy of the Waters.” Most recently, funds raised by the Art Ball have supported general museum operations.

RELATED: The Dayton museum history you didn’t know: When there was a zoo at the art institute



It’s a night to remember

The couples who make up the DAI’s Associate Board host both the Art Ball and Oktoberfest.

“Art Ball is a singular and well-loved event,” said Nat Croemer, the 2018 Art Ball co-chair. “Our fellow Associate Board members and the DAI staff have all worked very hard with us as a team to bring to this year’s Art Ball all the fun and sophistication of the 1960s — from the music throughout the evening to the dramatic and innovative lighting to the sumptuous food. Guests will be treated to a feast for all the senses.”

Jeff Pizza, who co-chaired last year’s event with Croemer, said the DAI is one of Dayton’s most important cultural jewels and is much more than a warehouse for a fine art collection. “It provides educational opportunities, inspires people of all ages through its programming and exhibitions and is a true community partner,” he says. “We care about art and the impact it can have as much as we care about Dayton and its future. Being involved with the DAI has given us the opportunity to help ensure the museum will be an integral part of Dayton’s bright future.”

Credit: E.L. Hubbard

Credit: E.L. Hubbard

How to participate

This year’s Art Ball is already sold out, but you can still participate in the Grand Draw Raffle.

Prize packages include a four-night stay in San Francisco/ Sonoma, CA with airfare for two, as well as exquisite items from James Free Jewelers, as well as spa, restaurant, gym, adventure and travel prize packages. Raffle tickets may be purchased online through noon this Friday, June 7, at

Raffle tickets are $100. Call the museum or visit for more information about prizes and to purchase raffle tickets.

Only 600 tickets will be sold. Purchase three or more raffle tickets and get one free Oktoberfest Preview Party ticket.

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