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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


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.