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Chief’s Chair or Throne, Late 19th or early 20th century, Chokwe people, Angola. Carved wood, animal skin, metal tacks. Gift of Mrs. Rita Judge Smith. 2001.104 .

5 Natural Artworks For Earth Day

The Museum’s African art collection spans the continent’s rich history and cultures, making it one of the most comprehensive and impressive collections in the Southeast. In celebration of both Earth Day and the reopening of our all-new African gallery, we

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Press Release

Birmingham Museum of Art to Open Renovated African Galleries

Plank Mask (nwententay), Late 20th century, Yacouba Bonde, Bwa people, Village of Boni, Burkina Faso. Wood, natural pigments. Museum purchase with funds provided by Martha Pezrow. 2004.54

Plank Mask (nwententay), Late 20th century, Yacouba Bonde, Bwa people, Village of Boni, Burkina Faso. Wood, natural pigments. Museum purchase with funds provided by Martha Pezrow. 2004.54

After two years of renovations, the Birmingham Museum of Art reopens its African galleries on Saturday, April 26.

“Over the past several decades, the Birmingham Museum of Art has built an exceptional collection of African art, one that beautifully reflects the ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity of the many regions in Africa,” say Gail Andrew, R. Hugh Daniel Director of the Birmingham Museum of Art. “The new geographic orientation of the gallery created by Dr. Hanna underscores the vast and distinctive art forms that have existed in Africa for thousands of years and those which are being developed today. The gallery offers visitors the opportunity to explore the collection in an entirely new way.”

The renovated gallery space features many changes in the presentation of the collection. The collection is now organized geographically, grouping works from the same regions. Large maps, located throughout the gallery, will assist visitors in easily locating the origin of a particular work. The space will also be equipped with a large flat screen, designed to enhance the gallery experience by featuring supplemental media such as documentary footage of art in production and contemporary art composed digitally. In addition, the Museum has collaborated with Jefferson County teachers to develop an interactive African Proverbs project, which will reveal to visitors the relationship between proverbs and art in Africa.

“Africa is a continent of enormous diversity, home to over fifty countries, and hundreds of ethnic groups, cultures, languages, religions, and traditions. Our gallery is now organized in a way that celebrates this wide-ranging, but interconnected expanse of African art across the continent,” says Emily Hanna, Curator of the Arts of Africa and the Americas. “In the gallery, I’ve created a very vibrant, engaging space that includes more of our collection, including textiles, clothing, jewelry, and large color photographs that show objects being used or worn. Visitors will appreciate the new design features as they trace their way through history and the magnificent art of Africa. ”

The African collection at the Birmingham Museum of Art comprises more than 1,600 objects from across the continent of Africa. The collection represents all major regions and artistic styles from 1500 BC forward. The works of art include masks, figure sculpture, textiles, ceramics, household and ritual objects, jewelry, musical instruments, currencies, furniture, clothing, and costume. The first part of the gallery renovation was completed in 2013 and resulted in a space for the display of the Museum’s impressive collection of African ceramics.

To celebrate the gallery’s reopening, the Museum will host a lecture by renowned African art scholar, Dr. Babatunde Lawal, on Friday, April 25 at 6pm. Entitled Mediating and Ennobling the Soul: Tradition and Change in Yoruba Art, the talk will focus on the cultural and spiritual significance of art among the Yoruba of Nigeria, contemporary movements in Yoruba art, and the Yoruba influence on the arts of the African Diaspora. Lawal is a Professor of African, African American and African Diaspora Art at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia. His books include The Gèlèdé Spectacle: Art, Gender and Social Harmony in an African Culture (1996), Embodying the Sacred in Yoruba Art (2007), and Yoruba: Vision of Africa Series (2012).

A reception immediately follows the lecture, and will include a drumming performance by Osumare African Drum & Dance Ensemble, Afro beat music by DJ Drew, and light refreshments.

About the Birmingham Museum ofArt: Founded in 1951, the Birmingham Museum ofArt has one ofthe finest collections in the Southeast. More than 24,000 objects displayed and housed within the Museum represent a rich panorama ofcultures, including Asian, European, American, African, Pre-Columbian, and Native American. Highlights include the Museum’s collection ofAsian art, Vietnamese ceramics, the Kress collection ofRenaissance and Baroque paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts from the late 13th century to the 1750s, and the Museum’s world-renowned collection ofWedgwood, the largest outside ofEngland.

Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863)  Christ in the Garden of Olives, 1824-1827  Oil on canvas - 294 x 362 cm Paris, Eglise Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis.

5 Images of Christ by Delacroix

With Easter weekend and the final month of the exhibition upon us, now is the time to visit Delacroix and the Matter of Finish! Delacroix was fascinated by religious figures, and often depicted Christ in his art. The first three

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Chopstick wrappers

Birmingham Fashion Week: Up Close and Personal

A quick stroll through the Museum’s Education Gallery and main entrances leaves everyone saying: “Wow!” “Cool!” “A sixth grader made that?!” Our Birmingham Fashion Week: Rising Design Star Challenge exhibition is filled with impressive, inventive, and flat-out cool designs from students

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Giving News News

Donor Spotlight: Docents Drive The Bus Fund

Not only do the Museum docents provide more than 12,000 hours of service to the Museum annually, through leading tours, conducting research on the artworks and exhibitions, preparing their presentations, and attending trainings, but they are also committed to the educational mission of the institution in multiple ways. Docents are on the front lines of the Museum and they see firsthand the trends in visitor attendance and demographics. “As docents, we noticed a significant decline in student tours of the Museum,” explains Kay Hanlin, Master Docent and Chair of Docent Bus Fund Endowment Committee. “The economy’s downturn resulted in the reduction or elimination of funds for art-related programs, including field trips, in many of our local schools. While admission to our museum is free, transportation for students is not.” Realizing that high transportation costs were directly correlated to fewer tours, the BMA docent corps decided in 2011 to begin raising money for a bus fund endowment to defray the costs of bus transportation.

The Museum offers carefully-designed, curriculum-based tours for students that enhance learning and correspond to the Alabama Course of Study and the Core Curriculum. We know, however, that not all teachers and students can take advantage of these free educational field trips. The docents set an ambitious goal to help alleviate this growing problem. They agreed to raise $25,000 within three years to meet the endowment requirements. As 2013 drew to a close in December, the fund topped that amount – a full six months before the deadline. The funds came from docent donations, gifts in honor of docents, memorials to docents, and from donations for the book The First Fifty Years of the Birmingham Museum of Art by Margaret Livingston, a BMA board of director’s member and former docent. Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, the Museum will be able to provide 10 buses a year from the interest earned on this endowment. Additional interest from a similar endowment gift from Erica Liebelt will fund another 10 buses annually. “Our goal was to directly impact the lives of students by assisting with the cost of transportation and providing the opportunity to experience art on a close and personal level through docent-led tours,” says Hanlin. “We are now committed to continue to support and grow the endowment so that it will have an even broader impact in the years to come.”

Giving News News

Remembering Caldwell Marks

Caldwell MarksCaldwell Marks was one of the BMA’s “three musketeers,” along with Henry Goodrich and Bill Spencer. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, they worked together to spearhead the campaign to raise more than $22 million for the expansion and renovation of the Museum, Caldwell, of course, contributing generously to the effort himself. He was a tireless advocate, engaged board member, and a trusted advisor to the Birmingham Museum of Art throughout his lifetime.

Mr. Marks’ support spanned the full range of giving, including donating to the annual fund, holding an upper level membership, helping the Museum acquire art, supporting the Museum Ball, and providing for the Museum in his estate plans. An active member of the European Art Society, he purchased a major painting for the Museum’s collection by the landscape master Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, in memory of his late wife Jeanne.

Sadly, Caldwell Marks passed away last year, and his loss is deeply felt within the Museum family. However, Mr. Marks provided for the BMA in his estate, and thanks to this planned gift, the Museum will work with his family to identify a significant work of art to acquire in his memory. Although he is no longer with us physically, his legacy and generosity will live on in our galleries and our hearts.

Please consider following in Caldwell Marks’ footsteps and remembering the BMA in your estate plans. Bequests can be for any purpose, ranging from unrestricted gifts to endowment funds or purchases of art. Let us work with you today to help identify the most appropriate designation for such an important contribution. For more information, contact Director of Development Kate Cleveland at 205.567.3561 or

Untitled (Man brushing teeth), Annie Pootoogook, 2006, Canadian Inuit (born 1969, Cape Dorset). Crayon and ink on paper. Collection of the Art Fund, Inc. at the Birmingham Museum of Art; Purchase with funds provided by Guy Kreusch, 119.2013.

A Glimpse into Inuit Life

By Emily Hanna, Ph.D., Curator, Arts of Africa and the Americas The drawings of Annie Pootoogook capture the small, ordinary moments that make up the routine of a day, such as this work depicting an unshaven man brushing his teeth.

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Recent Acquisitions

Yes Sir, That’s My Baby

Carl Paul Jennewein (American; born Germany, 1890–1978), Cupid and Gazelle, 1919. Cast by Priessmann, Bauer & Co. (Munich, Germany). Bronze with black patina, gilding, and polychrome. Collection of the Art Fund, Inc. at the Birmingham Museum of Art; Purchase with funds provided by James Milton and Sallie R. Johnson. AFI25.2013

Carl Paul Jennewein (American; born Germany, 1890–1978), Cupid and Gazelle, 1919. Cast by Priessmann, Bauer & Co. (Munich, Germany). Bronze with black patina, gilding, and polychrome. Collection of the Art Fund, Inc. at the Birmingham Museum of Art; Purchase with funds provided by James Milton and Sallie R. Johnson. AFI25.2013

By Graham Boettcher, Ph.D., The William Cary Hulsey Curator of American Art

Last fall, thanks to the generosity of James Milton and Sallie Johnson, the Museum acquired this exquisite and whimsical Art Deco bronze sculpture entitled Cupid and Gazelle, created in 1919 by the German-born American artist Carl Paul Jennewein. The sculpture, which celebrates the birth of the artist’s first child, Paolo, once belonged to Junius Spencer Morgan, III, grandson of the famed New York financier J. P. Morgan. In 1925, Jennewein created a companion piece entitled Cupid and Crane to celebrate the birth of his third child, Alessandro. This piece is one of thirteen known casts, and other examples can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The work is presently on view in the Museum’s Styslinger Gallery of American Art.

News Staff Updates

Birmingham Museum of Art Appoints Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

Wassan Al-KhudhairiThe Birmingham Museum of Art is pleased to announce the appointment of Wassan Al-Khudhairi as its new Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. She will begin work at the Museum on May 5.

“We are thrilled to have Ms. Al-Khudhairi take the lead of our Modern and Contemporary Art collection,” says Gail Andrews, R. Hugh Daniel Director of the Birmingham Museum of Art. “Her extensive curatorial experience has exposed her to incredible collections and networks around the world. I am confident her international experience will strengthen efforts to expand our global approach to the collection, while her engaging curatorial style will only deepen our relationships within the community.”

Jeannine O’Grody, Deputy Director and Chief Curator added: “Wassan has expressed a deep commitment to curatorial work. Her interest in delving into our existing collection to mine and evaluate it will be critical in determining the future of our Contemporary Art collection.”

Al-Khudhairi was previously Co-Artistic Director at the Gwangju Biennale Foundation in South Korea, where she collaborated on the curation of the ninth edition of the Gwangju Art Biennale. During her tenure, she contributed the exhibition catalogue and a number of essays including Thoughts on Revisiting Histories, an essay for the Gwangju Biennale Roundtable.

Prior to her time in South Korea, Al-Khudhairi served as the Founding Director of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Qatar, which she helped to establish from the ground up. At Mathaf, she spearheaded the development of the institutional vision and strategic plan and initiated the cultivation of community relationships and support of the Museum. Among the exhibitions Al-Khudhairi curated were Sajjil: A Century of Modern Art and Cai Guo-Qiang: Saraab, and collaborated with fellow scholars and guest curators on a number of projects.

She has lectured around the world on the subject of modern and contemporary art, specifically related to the Middle East. Other past experience includes positions at the Brooklyn Museum and the High Museum of Art.

Al-Khudhairi holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Georgia State University and a Master of Arts with Distinction in Islamic Art and Archaeology from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. She completed the Museum Leadership Institute program at the Getty Leadership Institute at Claremont Graduate University and most recently participated in the Independent Curators International Curatorial Intensive in New York.

Corporate Spotlight

Terry Kellogg, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama

Terry Kellogg

My Museum: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama aims to improve health and well-being throughout the state by investing in charitable organizations. How do you think your support of the arts improves well-being for the Birmingham community?

Terry Kellogg: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama and The Caring Foundation support initiatives to improve the health, wellness, and education of Alabamians. Health and wellness is more than a healthy body; it’s a healthy mind and spirit, as well. The arts improve the way people feel and interact with the world around them. Supporting the Birmingham Museum of Art and the arts provides opportunities to further enrich the lives of Alabamians.

MM: What do you look for when choosing to invest in a charitable organization?

TK: There are many worthwhile charitable organizations in our communities statewide. We support organizations that positively impact health, wellness, and education throughout Alabama. We ensure that the organizations we support are fiscally responsible and well-managed. We look for organizations and initiatives that improve the lives of Alabamians and meet the mission of The Caring Foundation and our corporate giving goals.

MM: As the number one healthcare provider in the state, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is also a large employer. How do your philanthropic contributions to organizations like the Museum help you recruit and retain employees?

TK: We believe that employees want to work for a company that gives back to the community. And those who care about working for such an employer are more likely to care for the customers who the company serves. One of our Corporate Values is “Give Back to the Community.” We strive to utilize our corporate strengths and resources to positively impact the communities we serve. Giving back to the community is important to our employees. When employees feel good about their employer, they’re more loyal and dedicated to that employer and, most importantly, to their customers.

MM: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama has been a longtime supporter of the Museum. Why do you choose to support our organization?

TK: Supporting the Birmingham Museum of Art is a significant way to impact the Birmingham community. By providing educational and cultural opportunities, the Birmingham Museum of Art improves the quality of life for Alabamians. Children who lack the opportunities to travel or experience other cultures and geography can do so through their experiences at the Museum. It provides a unique, multi-dimensional learning opportunity—including art, history, geography, religion, sociology—that cannot be replicated or experienced in quite the same way anywhere else. These factors contribute to elevating Birmingham, and making it a highly desirable city to live and work, attracting a strong workforce and new businesses to our state.

MM: What do you enjoy most about your partnership with the Museum?

TK: We enjoy knowing that our support is making a difference in the Birmingham area by providing not only a cultural experience, but a well-rounded educational one, as well. We also enjoy knowing that prospective businesses entertaining an expansion or move to the area will be positively influenced by a visit to the Museum.