Latest News


Artist Proposals Wanted for Studio Classes

Studio classes 2The Museum is seeking proposals from artists and educators for studio classes for children, teens, and adults.

Classes will be held between April and December 2015 and offered for adults. Available timeframes are Tuesday through Friday between 10AM and 5PM, Thursday evenings, and/or Saturdays. Classes can range from a one-time workshop to a four-week session.

Proposals will undergo a review process, and potential applicants will be contacted for a meeting to discuss the class proposal in more detail as well as compensation. Creative proposals not chosen for this term may be kept on file, and applicants may be contacted for future opportunities.

For more information, please contact Kristen Greenwood, Interim Curator of Education and Associate Curator of Education for Public Programs, at

  • Teacher information

  • Class proposal

    Please provide more information about your proposed class, or attach a document below including this information.


Volunteer for Small Treasures!

018delacroixInterested in art? Excited for our upcoming exhibition Small Treasures: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, and Their Contemporaries? We would love your help as a volunteer!

Volunteering provides personal enrichment, offers increased knowledge in the arts, provides opportunities to develop new skills, and allows you to make new friends with similar interests! Volunteers will play a vital role at the information desk and ticket desk for the upcoming exhibition Small Treasures.

Sign up to volunteer today by completing your application.

Thank you for your interest in volunteering with the Museum!

Spotlight on the Collection

January 2015: Lady Helen Vincent, Viscountess d’Abernon

Lady Helen Vincent, Viscountess of d'Abernon. John Singer Sargent, 1904. Oil on canvas. Museum purchase with funds provided by John Bohorfoush, the 1984 Museum Dinner and Ball, and the Museum Store, 1984.121.

Lady Helen Vincent, Viscountess of d’Abernon. John Singer Sargent, 1904. Oil on canvas. Museum purchase with funds provided by John Bohorfoush, the 1984 Museum Dinner and Ball, and the Museum Store, 1984.121.

Lady Helen Vincent, Viscountess d’Abernon, John Singer Sargent, 1904

Portraits are the result of a negotiation between an artist and a sitter, often over considerations such as clothing, props, and location. However, these practical matters can also reveal information about the subject’s inner self. By looking solely at her dress, modern-day viewers get a glimpse into fascinating life of Lady Helen Vincent, Viscountess d’Abernon (1866-1954) which was full not only of status and beauty but also intellectual pursuits.

Born Helen Venetia Duncombe to the Earl and Countess of Feversham, she grew up at the family estate of Duncombe Park in Helmsley, North Yorkshire, England. She was considered a leading beauty and, after her marriage to Edgar Vincent, became a celebrated socialite and hostess. During her husband’s elevation from knight to viscount and his international career as a banker, politician, and diplomat, she kept and published a diary that chronicled her life and times.

Sargent painted this portrait of Lady Helen in 1904, during her visit to Venice, Italy. He elongated her arms to accentuate her gracefulness. As part of the portrait-making process, correspondence reveals that at the eleventh hour he repainted the color of her dress, changing it from white to black. In so doing, he accentuated her milky-white skin, a signifier of her noble status. The darker dress also lifts the viewer’s eye upwards to her renowned face.

Lady Helen’s deep gaze refers to her reputed intellect. She was a member of “The Souls,” a group of distinguished thinkers such as authors Edith Wharton (1862-1937) and Henry James (1843-1916). When World War I broke out, Lady Helen served on the front line in France as a nurse anesthetist, a post that required a depth of knowledge and skill.



Today, the way we dress is still an integral way we convey information about ourselves. What we wear can attract positive or negative attention. Occasionally, media attention focused on the clothing choices of famous or noteworthy people may even detract from their capabilities and accomplishments.

How has fashion impacted your life? Is or was there a trend that made you feel especially confident? How have you judged others based on their clothing?

Check out the following links, and join the conversation below!

“Turkeygate: In Defense of Sasha and Malia,” The New Yorker, December 2, 2014

“Hillary Clinton’s Scrunchie: The Truth,” The Guardian, June 10, 2014


Support the Museum on Giving Tuesday


giving tuesday image

Now that we have given thanks and begun our holiday shopping with some good deals, it is time to give back.  Giving Tuesday is a global day dedicated to supporting causes all over the world and we hope you will participate this year by being a part of the Museum’s Big Picture and giving back to the BMA through the Annual Fund.

The Museum’s Annual Fund provides a stable source of income that makes daily life at the Museum possible. We rely on the generosity of our members and friends to help us carry out our mission, and your contributions to the Annual Fund provide essential operating support that allows us to continue preserving and promoting great works of art through conservation, exhibition and education.  Every piece in our collection has a story and YOU are a part of that story, a part of the big picture.

Give to the Annual Fund now in honor of Giving Tuesday and be a part of the big picture.


More information here.

Spotlight on the Collection

December 2014: Madonna and Christ Child with Infant Saint John the Baptist and Three Angels

Madonna and Christ Child with Infant Saint John the Baptist and Three Angels. Workshop of Domenico Ghirlandaio, about 1485/1500. Tempera on panel. Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, 1961.97.

Madonna and Christ Child with Infant Saint John the Baptist and Three Angels. Workshop of Domenico Ghirlandaio, about 1485/1500. Tempera on panel. Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, 1961.97.

Madonna and Christ Child with Infant Saint John the Baptist and Three Angels, Workshop of Domenico Ghirlandaio, about 1485/1500

The Italian word tondo (plural tondi) describes a painting or relief sculpture in a round format. The circular shape – with its connotations of harmony and completeness – may have evolved from desco da parto, a painted tray used to present gifts or to serve sweets to a woman who had just given birth. One of the most popular formats for 15th-century painting in Florence, tondi were mainly produced for private prayer and commonly depicted themes of the Virgin and Child or the Adoration of the Magi.

Among the paintings on view in the BMA’s Kress Galleries, Madonna and Christ Child with Infant Saint John the Baptist and Three Angels is the only one in the tondo format. In the middle, a seated Mary supports the infant Jesus on her knee with one hand, and gently lifts the future John the Baptist’s head with the other. Jesus raises his right hand to bless John, while in his left he holds a pomegranate, a symbol of his resurrection. The interplay among the three figures creates a quiet ambiance, further enhanced by the three angels watching over the group from behind.

For artists, it is harder to achieve balanced compositions in round paintings than in rectangular ones. To do so, Domenico Ghirlandaio echoes the circular frame through Mary’s posture, the heads of John and the angel on the far right, and the arched windows in the background. The pyramid formed by the three figures also stabilizes the overall composition. Students and later artists produced several variations of Ghirlandaio’s prototype, including this one, which demonstrates the success and popularity of the composition.

Join the conversation!

Artworks affect our emotions and perceptions through their subject matter, color, texture, and shape. If the artist had painted this work in another format – such as rectangular, square, triangle, or oval – do think it would have a different effect? Why or why not?

Check out these examples of other tondi, and join the conversation below!

Madonna and Christ Child with Infant Saint John the Baptist and Three Angels, Domenico Ghirlandaio and workshop, about 1490, Louvre Museum, Paris

Doni Tondo, Michelangelo Buonarroti, about 1506-1508, Uffizi Gallery, Florence

The Adoration of the Kings, Sandro Botticelli, about 1470-1475, The National Gallery, London


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