Latest News

Community News News

Year in Review: CREATE


This Thanksgiving, we are feeling particularly thankful for our community and its support of the arts at the Museum all year long. By visiting us and participating in our many programs (most of which are free to all), our visitors help us bring more vibrant and creative events to Birmingham.

We have been lucky to have a wonderful year of programs at the Museum. Our staff CREATES opportunities every day for our visitors to explore our comprehensive collection. From ArtBreaks to Slow Art Sunday, Art On The Rocks to First Thursday, and tours to studio classes, our calendar is packed each month to bring art to everyone in our city.

Give today and help us CREATE even more in 2016!

By the numbers

27,212 Objects now comprise our encyclopedic collection of art from around the globe

6,569 Visitors enjoyed the best of local culture during the BMA’s 10th season of Art On The Rocks

2,256 Visitors welcomed spring by throwing colors at our annual Holi Festival

1,164 Collection-inspired programs presented by the BMA

14 Exhibitions presented by the BMA

Photo Favorites

create collage

Read More

Spotlight on the Collection
The Second Biennial Bunting Ceramics Symposium
Small Treasures Lecture: Interview with Arthur Wheelock, National Gallery of Art
Video: Derrick Adams’ The Entertainer
Art On The Rocks
New Exhibition Dedicated to Baseball
Mystery Object
David Puxley smartguide feature
Video: Rick Lowe, Social and Community Engaged Art: The Genuine and the Artificial
Celebrating 25 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act
Rising Up: Hale Woodruff’s Murals at Talladega College
Meet the Members of the Moth
Black Like Who? smartguide feature
Hale Woodruff Lecture: Interview with Stephanie Heydt, The High Museum of Art
Curator’s Choice: August Anniversaries
Art On The Rocks 2015 Recap 
Lecture: Religion in Modern Art, Interview with Erika Doss, University of Notre Dame
Rushton Concert: Pianist Sean Chen
Hiden Lecture: Interview with Natalie Chanin
Gandhi Jayanti 2015 Essay and Poster Contest Recap
Huffington Post Features BMA Exhibition 
Lecture: America is Hard to See, Interview with Carter Foster, the Whitney Museum of American Art

Interviews News

Curator to Curator: Graham Boettcher and Carter Foster

The BMA's Chief Curator and Curator of American Art Graham C. Boettcher, Ph.D. & the Whitney Museum of American Art's Curator of Drawings Carter E. Foster (image from

The BMA’s Chief Curator and Curator of American Art Graham C. Boettcher, Ph.D. & the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Curator of Drawings Carter E. Foster (image from

My friend and colleague, Carter Foster is one of four curators responsible for the landmark exhibition America Is Hard to See, which recently debuted at the widely-acclaimed, and newly-renovated Whitney Museum of American Art.

For his lecture on Thursday, November 5 at 7pm, Carter will give a behind-the-scenes look at the planning of the exhibition, the exhibition’s relationship to the museum’s new architecture, and the highlights of the exhibition overall.

Carter has served as the Curator of Drawings at the Whitney for the past ten years, and I recently caught up with him about his work upcoming lecture at the BMA.

Graham Boettcher: What were some of the challenge you faced in curating America Is Hard to See, both in terms of the themes/issues you wanted to address, and the public’s expectations for the “new” Whitney’s inaugural exhibition?

Carter Foster: The biggest challenge was distilling down all we wanted to do in what is ultimately a limited amount of space (even though we expanded!) — one can never do everything. So there were lots of intense discussions when it came down to cutting artists, ideas, groups of works, etc. As we said to ourselves at the time, we all had to “kill our darlings.”

GB: America is a vast and culturally rich and diverse place. How did you narrow down the themes explored in the exhibition? Are the any subjects which you didn’t or couldn’t address and wish you had?

CF: Through months and months of discussion, starting with big ideas and winnowing and refining them. We were also led, of course, by our own collection, since we decided early on to make this a permanent collection show, so the collection’s strengths certainly were borne out by the display, at least to some degree.

At one point we were going to devote a room to Photo Realism. I wish we had, as I think it is very relevant in the age of Instagram, and the painting techniques those artists explored and perfected is deeply influential and still current, to my mind.

GB: Does the exhibition challenge or expand the canon of American art or change the historical narrative?

CF: We certainly hope so! We make a very concerted effort to delve deeply into our collection and to show work that had rarely, if ever, been shown before. We had a strong commitment to diversity and wanted to give prominence to women artists and artists of color, most of whom had traditionally been excluded from the canons of American art.

GB: Have you received any surprising feedback or learned anything unexpected as a result of the exhibition?

CF: We’ve all been pleased at the open mindedness of people at our inclusion of relatively lesser known figures and the fact that people seem to want a refreshed view and an expanded canon. Over and over people have told us how much they’ve loved discovering artists with whom they were unfamiliar.

GB: The Birmingham Museum of Art is exploring the potential for expansion. How has the Whitney’s new building impacted the way you conceive exhibitions and think about displaying the permanent collection?

CF: I think myself and my colleagues remain committed to many of the ideas we explored and principles we set for ourselves while working on “America is Hard to See” — we liked rejiggering the canon, so to speak. I think that will continue to guide us. The other great factor is of course the type of space we now have — we all think of it holistically with the art we show in it, so certainly our beautiful new galleries are a factor in deciding how we will install the art we have.

GB: What’s next for you?

CF: An exhibition in April on June Leaf, and amazing artist who has been working since the 1950s. And very likely a retrospective of the work of Grant Wood in a few years.


Huffington Post Features BMA Exhibition

Flag5 copyThe Museum’s upcoming winter exhibition, Haitian Flags from the Cargo Collection is already generating buzz with a new article from the Huffington Post. The exhibition, which is presented by Joe Piper, Inc., comprises 21 beaded and sequined ‘drapo’ from the BMA’s permanent collection. The article, Basking In The Spellbinding Beauty Of Haitian Vodou Flags by Priscilla Frank, features commentary from an interview with the organizing curator, Dr. Emily Hanna. See below for an excerpt or click here to read the full article


Walk into the Birmingham Museum of Art this winter and you’ll find yourself immersed in a strange and ecstatic experience, somewhere between an aesthetic encounter, a religious ritual and a history lesson.

Hanging from the museum’s blue walls are Haitian Vodou flags, hypnotic tapestries made from satin and sequins and sacred symbols. “They are dazzling, they just shimmer,” Dr. Emily Hanna, Senior Curator and Curator of the Arts of Africa and the Americas, explained to The Huffington Post. “Very much like stained glass in a church.”

The story of Vodou begins around 1492, with the Spanish colonization of Hispaniola, an island now split between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Not long after, the French and English appeared too, killing off the native Taino population. Hundreds of thousands of West and Central Africans were shipped in as slaves to work on sugarcane, cotton and coffee plantations. Under these tense and oppressive circumstances, a new religion emerged, melding elements of African beliefs with Roman Catholicism.

The resulting belief system is…(read more)