Museum of Fine Arts

Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts - Photo by Melissa Parker
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts - Photo by Melissa Parker

Montgomery – The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts is the oldest fine arts museum in Alabama. It was established in 1930 by a group of local artists and patrons (under the name of the “Alabama Society of Fine Arts”) to exhibit and promote the work of Alabama artists.

The museum’s original home for the first twenty-nine years was the former Lawrence Street School at the corner of High and Lawrence Streets in downtown Montgomery. For the years between 1959 and 1988, the Museum shared the building at 440 South McDonough Street in with the City-County Public Library.

It moved to the Blount Cultural Park in Montgomery in 1998, and is adjacent to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s Carolyn Blount Theatre. The move was made possible after the Museum’s Board of Trustees joined with the City to raise over six million dollars for the construction of the new building.

An exhibition currently showing is Sonia Handelman Meyer: Images from the Photo League which features photography in New York during the years around World War II. Future exhibits include Ancestry and Innovation: African American Art from the American Folk Museum and Bessie Potter Vonnoh: Sculptor of Women.

Permanent collections include examples of 19th and 20th century American paintings and sculpture, Southern regional art, and Old Master Prints of works by John Singer Sargeant, Edward Hopper, and Winslow Homer.

The museum’s permanent collection features also the work of artists of national as well as regional reputation from all ethnic backgrounds. The core of the American collection is the outstanding Blount Collection of American Art, a group of 41 paintings, including works by Rembrandt, Durer, and Whistler.

In December of 2008, ten more modern African-American quits from west Alabama were added to its permanent collection, bringing the total number of quilts to sixty. The museum’s collection includes the work of a diverse group of African-American quilters working in Alabama and Mississippi during the last half century and focuses on quilts made primarily between the mid-1950s and the end of the 20th century.

The museum also offers three annual events for families: The Flimp Festival the first Saturday in May, a Summer Art Sampler, and Holiday Open House in December. There are also programs on weekends to coincide with the themes of special exhibitions; ARTWORKS, a participatory art gallery and studio for children; pre-school programs offered; and artists’ demonstrations and lectures for adults.

They are offering something new beginning in February. Participants of this program will visit six well-known artists’ studios on different Tuesday evenings all year to learn about their creative processes and techniques. Then on Thursday evenings of the same week they will visit the museum to view a related exhibition and work with the artist on projects.

The first one begins February 24/26 for Marcia Weber/Art Objects and M. Bagwell Art Gallery with Ancestry and Innovation; African-American Art from the American Folk Art Museum. Cost is $80 for all twelve sessions for museum and art guild members; $95 for non-members. The program is limited to fifteen participants and registration is required.

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Article by Melissa Parker

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