2017 - 2018
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
Museum attendance grew again this year, and we proudly offered free admission to 121,108 visitors as we work to ensure that people from all backgrounds have access to high-quality art experiences.
As research continues to prove that art builds empathy and enhances cognitive thinking, the Birmingham Museum of Art welcomed 5,997 children through its galleries to offer tangible context for world histories and cultures.
A combination of 27,500 paintings, sculptures, jewelry, costumes, and videos comprise the Museum’s collection of art from around the world which spans from ancient to modern times and includes Asian, European, American, African, Pre-Columbian, and Native American art.
For seven years now, the BMA has partnered with UAB to host Art In Medicine, a program in which medical students study the BMA collection in order to improve to skills of observation and empathy for enhanced patient care.
The BMA’s dynamic Studio School classes taught 2,001 emerging artists to sculpt, paint, draw, and sketch, using art from our exhibitions and collection as inspiration for a wide range of art classes.
In its 14th season, Art On The Rocks continues to enliven the Museum with artists, live music, and interactive performances. 2018 saw a jump in attendance with 4,200 guests who came out to enjoy special guests like the band Tank and the Bangas.
Thirty-three teenagers participated in our Teen BMA program which encourage young creatives to get engaged with the Museum at an early age and empowers them to create opportunities for other young people to get involved in the arts.
As arts programs disintegrate in school curricula, the BMA fills the void left behind by serving 173 area schools through docent-led tours and programs proven to improve academic performance and problem-solving skills.
Our interactive family gallery, Bart’s ArtVenture, welcomed 14,683 children. This colorful and dynamic space introduces children to art concepts and the BMA’s collection through hands-on learning, special exhibitions, and art making projects.
Letter from Leadership
Beginning with the winter 2018 issue, we committed to including the annual report from the previous fiscal year in Medium, our member magazine. When he took office last November, Mayor Randall Woodfin named transparency and accountability among the core values of his administration. Providing you an annual look at our finances is one way we can live up to these standards. Additionally, it gives us a chance to show the many ways in which our collections are growing throughout the year, and to thank the many generous donors who not only make possible these acquisitions, but also the health and growth of our institution as a whole.
From July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018, we welcomed 121,108 visitors through our doors, a modest increase of nearly 1,000 visitors over the previous fiscal year. As we continue to invest time and resources in creative and engaging programming, we expect that this number will continue to grow. Our popular Family Festivals Series, sponsored by Medical Properties Trust, continues to embrace the diversity of our community and attract record crowds. In March, our 8th Annual Holi Festival, the Indian celebration of color, brought more than 2,100 people to the Museum in a single day! Another program, Art After 5, has made the Museum a destination for evening fun the first Friday of every month, and we are seeing its attendance grow as word begins to spread about this unique, sometimes irreverent monthly “happening.” As much as art can be fun and light-hearted, sometimes it provides a platform to discuss serious issues that affect our community and our nation. Such was the case this past April when artist Hank Willis Thomas and community leaders engaged in “A Community Conversation About Art, Loss, and Gun Violence” around Thomas’ 2015 work Priceless, in the Museum’s collection. Our ability to serve the public through innovative and meaningful programs such as these was greatly enhanced by the last year’s “Gift for Gail” campaign, which raised nearly $1.1 million in endowed funds for public programs in honor of longtime director Gail C. Andrews, who retired last October.
Gail’s retirement was the first in a series of transitions for the institution. In December, Dr. Donald Wood, the Virginia and William M. Spencer III Curator of Asian Art, retired after a 30- year tenure with the BMA. Don’s “swan song” was the exhibition Afterlife: Asian Art from the Weldon Collection, celebrating Henry H. June and Henry H. Weldon’s transformative gift of over 450 major works of Asian art to the BMA. While Dr. Wood curated his last exhibition at the BMA, Dr. Katelyn Crawford, The William Cary Hulsey Curator of American Art, who joined the Museum last August, curated her first exhibition, Magic City Realism: Richard Coe’s Birmingham, a fascinating look at our city during the Great Depression. In September, we opened the newly renovated and expanded Featheringill Gallery with Opulence in Disguise: The Netherlands’ Golden Age, a masterful rehang of the Museum’s Dutch collection—with many freshly conserved paintings and recent acquisitions— by Dr. Robert Schindler, The Fariss Gambrill Lynn and Henry Sharpe Lynn Curator of European Art. It would be remiss not to mention Third Space / shifting conversations about contemporary art, named among the New York Times’ “Best Art of 2017,” which continued to draw praise from visitors and critics alike.
While the Museum’s collection continues to grow in size and quality thanks to the generosity of our donors, two acquisitions are deserving of particular mention. Last fall, the Museum ac- quired five rare original drawings attributed to the Japanese painter and print designer Kamisaka Sekka (1866–1942), in honor of Dr. Donald Wood, who is widely considered one of the leading authorities on the artist, having organized a groundbreaking exhibition of his work. The Museum also acquired an exquisite late 16th-century Italian reliquary depicting The Adoration of Shepherds, painted in oil on agate, to honor the memory of Dr. Jeannine O’Grody, the Museum’s former Curator of European Art, Chief Curator, and Deputy Director, who passed in August 2016. The purchase was made possible with funds provided by Jeannine’s loving family and devoted friends.
We are grateful to the Museum’s many supporters—individuals, corporations, foundations, and government entities—for their critical support. While our dedicated and generous supporters are too numerous to mention in the space of this letter, we’d like to highlight a few who made especially important contributions this fiscal year. As a department of the City of Birmingham, our single greatest contributor is the city itself, which provides over $3.5 million in annual support. Recently, additional city funding has enabled the Museum to tackle several major deferred maintenance and facilities issues, such as the replacement of our HVAC system, and other crucial repairs. Another major source of funding is the Museum Ball. On Saturday, May 5, the BMA held its 62nd ball, chaired by Tricia and Troy Wallwork and Sue and Nick Willis, which raised nearly $410,000, in critical support for the Museum’s Education Department. Finally, in September 2017, the Museum lost a longtime friend with the passing of Phillip Morris, former executive editor of Southern Living and a passionate advocate lover of art, architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, and historic preservation. Phillip made a generous bequest to the Museum, which will have long-lasting benefits to our financial health and security. In memory of Phillip and in appreciation of this gift and his impact on our community, the Museum’s lower lobby now carries his name.
Thank you for helping the Birmingham Museum of Art to continue to thrive and grow. We hope that you will make it a regular destination throughout the new year, and we look forward to seeing you soon.