The mission of the Birmingham Museum of Art is to spark the creativity, imagination, and liveliness of Birmingham by connecting all its citizens to the experience, meaning, and joy of art.
View This Year’s Stats
Digital visits to the BMA’s comprehensive website content which ranges from live performances to
art activities and our digitized global collection.
Ensuring that people from all backgrounds have access to high-quality art experiences is at the core of our mission. In the 9 months before the pandemic forced the BMA to close to the public, we proudly offered free admission to 82,139 visitors. With the return to full in-person programming in early 2022, our attendance is quickly growing.
smartguide Stop Visits
Visits to our smartguide stops. The smartguide enhances each visit by supplementing art works with informative content ranging from quick guides to artists, interactive images, audio, video, games, and more.
As research continues to prove that art builds empathy and enhances cognitive thinking, the Birmingham Museum of Art provided 14,548 children with engaging art experiences both in and outside the Museum walls.
Digital Learning Resources
Since the beginning of the global pandemic when students and teachers were faced with virtual instruction, the BMA has launched 101 art-related digital learning resources on its new Culture Bridge platform.
In one year, our team produced 15 digital and in-person exhibitions representing work by artists around the world and here in Birmingham. All were offered free of charge to the public.
One Museum has the power to transform Birmingham by connecting all its citizens to the experience, meaning, and joy of art.
Each year at this time, we provide you—our dedicated supporters—with a synopsis of the Museum’s operations during the previous fiscal year. This Impact Report covers the period from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, comprising three months when we were shuttered and all of our programming went virtual, and nine months of “normal” operations after we reopened our doors to the public on October 6, 2020. Despite inauspicious circumstances, the Museum persevered in its mission to spark the creativity, imagination, and liveliness of Birmingham by connecting all its people to the experience, meaning, and joy of art. Early in the pandemic, we connected virtually, providing this community with an unprecedented number of online programs, including exhibitions, gallery tours, artist talks, and art activities. We learned that the BMA can reach audiences far beyond its walls, and along the way, we made new friends from throughout our city and state, as well as from coast to coast and around the world. Despite the success of our virtual offerings—which to date have drawn nearly 300,000 visitors and counting—we were delighted to reopen our doors to the public on October 6, 2020, just in time to bring the work of Jacob Lawrence, an iconic American modernist, to the people of Birmingham, the third presentation of his work in our 70-year history.
The Washington Post named Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle to “the best visual art of 2020” and proclaimed this rarely seen series “a national treasure.” In its nationwide tour— which included Greater Boston, New York, Seattle, and Washington, DC—all of the other venues charged visitors between $12 and $25 per person to access the exhibition. Thanks to the generosity of our incredible presenting co-sponsors Alabama Power, Vulcan Materials, and The Warner Foundation, our visitors—nearly 3,800 in number—enjoyed free admission to this once-in-a-lifetime exhibition.
Visitors returning to the BMA after the long hiatus were also treated to an immersive experience created by Alaska-based artist Merritt Johnson. Johnson’s installation—an exploration of the land- scape and history of the Birmingham area—is the largest site-specific work ever installed at the Museum, stretching across the cafe and the main lobby. This visionary project was made possible by PNC, presenting sponsor of Wall to Wall, an ongoing reimagination of the Museum’s most vital places of communal gathering and public exchange.
Taking its name from the title of an Amy Sherald painting on long term loan to the BMA, All Things Bright and Beautiful, which ran from October 6, 2020 through January 2022, considered themes of power and agency, featuring familiar works by Kerry James Marshall, Radcliffe Bailey, and Louise Nevelson, as well as recent acquisitions by Erin LeAnn Mitchell and Rico Gatson, among others. In conjunction with the exhibition, in November 2020, the Museum was honored to have Amy Sherald deliver the Annual Chenoweth Lecture. More than 400 people watched the livestream talk during which Sherald discussed her work, studio practice, and her iconic por- traits, including her painting of First Lady Michelle Obama for the National Portrait Gallery and her poignant likeness of Breonna Taylor for the cover of Vanity Fair magazine.
In April 2021, at a time when travel opportunities were limited, we opened The Art of Travel, Trade and Transportation, the latest installment in the BMA’s Ways of Seeing series that explores themes, perspectives, and ideas from across the Museum’s global art collections. The exhibition brought together over seventy objects from the BMA’s permanent collection to explore subjects of travelling for both pleasure and necessity, providing visitors with a chance to explore the globe without leaving Birmingham. The Museum also welcomed a new member to its leadership team during the 2020-21 fiscal year. Following a national search, in August 2020, the Museum named Nancy Hendrix as its new director of institutional advancement. Nancy brings nearly a decade of experience in non-profit development and joined the BMA after more than three years as deputy director of development at the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. She previously served as the regional ad- vancement director and development officer for the Southern Poverty Law Center where she was primarily responsible for expanding the organization’s major donor support on the West Coast.
In closing, we’d like to express our sincere gratitude to you, our supporters, who have helped en- sure that the experience, meaning, and joy of art remain an integral part of our lives during this long pandemic. We hope you will enjoy reading about the many ways the BMA has served our community over the past year, and feel a sense of pride at the role you’ve played in making that possible.