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What’s Your Story?

The art of Frank Fleming has been described as whimsical and intriguing. His fantastical sculptures have endless stories to tell – stories that are only limited by an individual’s imagination.

For the BMA’s upcoming exhibition Between Fantasy and Reality, we invite you to tell us the stories of these artworks! Who’s eating that lip sandwich or tongue cake? Where’s the foot flying? What’s the lounging alligator lady dreaming about?

Submissions are limited to 150 words or less, and can be poetry or prose. To send us your story, click on an image below, fill out the online form, and submit no later than Wednesday, December 31. Our exhibition team will choose one unique story to appear in the gallery next to each of these six artworks.

Click on an artwork below to get started.

Alligator Lady, Frank Fleming, 1979

Alligator Lady, Frank Fleming, 1979

A Boy and His Dog, Frank Fleming, 1974

A Boy and His Dog, Frank Fleming, 1974

Fretted Foot, Frank Fleming, 1977

Fretted Foot, Frank Fleming, 1977

Lip Sandwich, Frank Fleming, 1972

Lip Sandwich, Frank Fleming, 1972

Spirit Catcher, Frank Fleming, 1982

Spirit Catcher, Frank Fleming, 1982


Tongue Cake, Frank Fleming, 1972


1 Gift, 6 Ways You’ll Give Back

bierstadt for email

Since the BMA offers free admission to the collection every day, we rely on the support of our Birmingham community to keep our doors open and our daily operations running smoothly. Here are 6 simple ways you’ll contribute to the Museum through your donation to the annual fund:

1. Looking Its Best
When you look at Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California, it’s hard to notice anything else but the sheer beauty and expanse of the piece. Upon closer inspection, however, you’ll notice the hard work that goes on around the frame to make it look its best.
So much work influences the beautiful work of art you see: the paint color on the walls, carefully selected by our Exhibitions Designer Terry Beckham and our curatorial staff; how the piece is hung on the wall and carefully lit by many light fixtures, thanks to our preparators; the distinct glow of the paint, made more vibrant by conservation efforts; a bench so visitors can look longer and more closely; and informational wall panels and our Museum app for further learning, provided by our Education department.
While looking at our Big Picture, you quickly see the many little aspects of daily Museum life that make a visitor’s experience great. With your help, we can continue presenting our art in the most beautiful and fulfilling way.

2. On The Road
In 2013, our Bierstadt traveled to the Smithsonian Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. To travel to Washington and then on to New York City, the Bierstadt required 80 hours to build its crate, 8 people to take the painting off the wall, 10 people to move it, and 12-14 people to get it in its crate. While this took a bit of work from our staff, it was so rewarding to know that thousands of people were able to see this incredible piece.
Just this year, we loaned 77 works of art from our collection to 19 institutions. This work is vital for both the visibility and appreciation of our Museum and city. Even if you don’t see a work of art in our galleries, it can be traveling, in storage, or being conserved. There’s always something happening behind the scenes that is part of the Big Picture!

3. With A Little Help From Our Friends 
Our docents and volunteers are invaluable to us. With a small staff and a huge Museum, the volunteers are always here to lend a helping hand. This past year, our docents recorded nearly 500 touring hours, where they brought our works of art to life through stories and conversation.
While the Big Picture is about the hundreds of little things that happen at the Museum daily, it is also about those in our community – especially you! – and all the ways you give back to us.

4. Connecting With Art
In 2014, the BMA provided 1,105 public programs. Each of these opportunities allows our visitors to connect with art in a new, inventive way. From our weekly ArtBreaks and Slow Art Sundays to exhibition openings and special lectures, we are always looking for new ways to make art come alive. If you’ve attended a program or special event at the Museum, you may have learned something new about art, a different culture, or even yourself. The Big Picture is about looking beyond ourselves and learning what the world has to offer.

5. Something For Everyone 
With 140,000 visitors to the Museum this past year, we strive to offer a new experience for people of all ages, backgrounds, and levels of art understanding. Free, daily art activities in Bart’s ArtVenture provide children opportunities to enjoy art, which is continuing to be cut from school curricula. Junior Patron events, like the annual favorite Art On The Rocks, give networking and social outlets for young professionals in our area. And programs like our nationally recognized Visually Impaired Program, which offers tours for those with visual impairments, go beyond the traditional Museum experience to make an impact on our visitors. Taking a look at the Big Picture means considering every visitor, every time they enter our doors. Who will be impacted by your gift?

6. One Of Many
While we have focused on our big picture (our beloved Bierstadt), the Big Picture is about so much more. With more than 27,000 objects in our collection that require just as much care and attention, we are quite busy at the BMA! Our collection, however, isn’t solely the Museum’s job to protect. Take ownership of our city’s collection today: give back in honor of your favorite artwork, a favorite memory at the BMA, or for the future of our city’s Museum. Support the arts and Birmingham here.


Gandhi Jayanti 2014

Peace and Unity. Hannah Amidon, 11th grade, Hoover High School.

Peace and Unity. Hannah Amidon, 11th grade, Hoover High School.

Each year, the Birmingham Museum of Art and the Indian Cultural Society co-sponsor a contest that celebrates the connection between Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., two of the greatest leaders of the 20th century.

This year’s participants and winners were recognized at a special reception in honor of Gandhi’s birthday (Gandhi Jayanti) at the Museum on October 17, 2014.

The Museum and the Indian Cultural Society congratulate all of the students who participated in the 2014 Gandhi Jayanti Essay and Poster Contest.




  • First Place, Hannah Amidon
  • Second Place, Samantha Bearden
  • Third Place, Sadie Odom and Carolina Phillips
  • Honorable Mention, Alex Stern
  • Honorable Mention, John Larrimore
  • Honorable Mention, Powell McCormick

All participants

Special thanks to our supporters:

  • Alabama Humanities Foundation
  • Alabama State Council on the Arts
  • Alabama Writer’s Forum
  • Indian Cultural Society


Be a Part of the Big Picture

Donate Now

Walking down the long hallway toward the American Gallery, you see Albert Bierstadt’s Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California. At just over five feet tall and eight feet wide, the grand dimensions of this beloved painting serve to convey the immense, wild beauty of the American West.

How was this renowned painting acquired by the Birmingham Museum of Art and what does it take to present, preserve, and interpret this masterpiece?

It is all part of the big picture. Every piece in our collection has a story and you are a part of the story, part of the big picture. We need your help to continue caring for and presenting the 27,212 works of art in our permanent collection, including the much-loved Bierstadt.

In order to continue bringing art into the lives of more than 140,000 people each year, the Birmingham Museum of Art asks you to be a part of the big picture. Please join us by giving to the Annual Fund in honor of our big picture or your favorite work of art.

To learn more about the Annual Fund, click here.

Spotlight on the Collection

November 2014: Buffalo Vector

Buffalo Vector (Yellowstone Border). Merritt Johnson, 2009-2010. Oil and alkyd on canvas. Gift of the artist, AFI463.2012.

Buffalo Vector (Yellowstone Border). Merritt Johnson, 2009-2010. Oil and alkyd on canvas. Gift of the artist, AFI463.2012.

Buffalo Vector (Yellowstone Border), Merritt Johnson, 2009-2010

It is always rewarding to see Museum visitors draw close to a work of art, stop, and look closely. Without fail, this painting compels people to draw near.

From afar, Buffalo Vector is discernible as a landscape with rolling grassy hills, a beautiful golden green in the foreground, and cooler gray in the background against a backdrop of blue sky. Dark evergreens punctuate the terrain. A brilliant band of red divides the canvas horizontally, creating a boundary between the foreground and the background. The hard-edged band is broken in places, and red paint bleeds into the landscape below. In the foreground, a single buffalo stands out, dark brown against the golden grass. In the background, smaller buffalo make their way toward the foreground and the bleeding red boundary. Hundreds of delicate arrows and vector lines float on the surface of this scene, evoking the movement of the breeze, swirling insects, rising waves of heat, or the descent of raindrops from the sky.

In this work, Johnson – an artist of Mohawk, Blackfoot, and non-indigenous descent – considers the boundary of Yellowstone National Park, a designated habitat for the protection of bison, which were driven to near extinction in the 19th century. As with other elements of nature that cannot be contained or controlled – such as the flight of birds, the migration of animals, or seeds carried on the wind – the buffalo do not recognize the line of demarcation that defines the space where they should and should not roam, nor the dangers they face when they cross that border.

Johnson writes, “Human investment in land is so much about resources, about what we can get for land and what land can do for us. It’s all about use, for our comfort or convenience… I think that there is an Indigenous approach to land: to view the land as something that we need to sustain, rather than the land sustaining us. I think about the relationship that animals have to the land as being an Indigenous relationship.”

Mummies are a classic Halloween costume, but you can get very authentic if you copy the style of this mummy mask! // "Mummy Mask" Chancay culture, Peru (1000-1460), 1100-1460. Wood and shell. Museum purchase, 1964.104.1

10 Art-Inspired Halloween Costumes

Happy Halloween! There’s no place better than the Museum to be inspired, so why not draw from our collection for your Halloween costume this year? There are plenty of spooky sights and colorful characters in our galleries to create a costume

This gallery contains 10 images. View All Images »


Meet the BMA’s Newest Support Group

The Birmingham Museum of Art has launched a new support group for members who are interested in learning (or learning more) about the world of art collecting. This group, called Emerging Collectors, will take the mystery out of establishing and maintaining a collection through educational events, exclusive tours of private collections, discussions with BMA curators, and more. While connecting with fellow art enthusiasts, the Emerging Collectors support group will also become more familiar with the Museum’s collection and other support groups.

Elizabeth and Bill KoleszarElizabeth and Bill Koleszar, chairs of Emerging Collectors, hosted a kickoff event at their home in September. Guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres while meeting the Museum’s curatorial staff and hearing about plans for Emerging Collectors this year. New Emerging Collectors members were also invited to join the Friends of American Art to view the private collection of  Marlene and Crawford Taylor in October. More events for Emerging Collectors will be scheduled soon!

Click here for more information on Emerging Collectors, or to join this support group.