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Montgomery Museum of Fine Art

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The Calm within the Storm

There is a whole different sort of art to entertaining and doing it well. That’s been the function of our MMFA events planner since the Museum relocated to the Blount Cultural Park in 1989. This individual is responsible for ensuring that every event held at the Museum—from receptions, to dinners, to musical performances and community festivals—is a distinctive and memorable experience for our guests. Aaron Ganey recently joined us as Events Coordinator after having worked previously for our long-time caterer Jennie Weller Catering and Events. It was a smooth transition since the Museum staff had already enjoyed working with Aaron for several years, and Jennie now has an established and familiar line of communication within the Museum’s staff. I sat down to talk with Aaron about his position at the MMFA the morning after he coordinated a wonderful dinner for more than 300 guests held to celebrate Montgomery Medical Advocacy and Outreach and its 30 years of serving our community. The building was still buzzing with the excitement generated by this amazing occasion when we began our discussion.


Let Hans Grohs inspire your Halloween Decor

Are you looking for something fun, creative, and educational to do but don’t have time to book an MMFA studio class?

Many of the Education Department’s DIY projects are on our Pinterest page! These are great at-home projects that you can do with your child or your friends using regular household items. Our Hans Grohs-themed project below ties into our exhibition now on view, Hans Grohs and the Dance of Death.  Your spooky cat or pumpkin will be a great addition to your Halloween celebrations!

Visit our Pinterest page to get step-by-step instructions!

October: A Month of Great Expectations at the MMFA!

All month long people expect to see creepy, crawly, ghostly, and ghoulishly delightful yet fun scenes. Here at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, we have a spooky treat of our own with the opening of Hans Grohs and the Dance of Death exhibition. This is just one of many ways we plan to celebrate the month of October. Check out the list of festivities below with you, our guests, in mind.


Start Your Fall Season off at the MMFA

Jazz music featuring local talent, arts and crafts, and a reception celebrating one of the most influential and important contemporary American Artists are just a few of the events visitors can expect this month.  As the seasons change we encourage you to take a moment to check out the artwork in our galleries and enjoy the activities created with you in mind. View the September calendar now.


Meet the New Faces of MMFA Education!

The Museum Education Department has welcomed four new team members in 2017. We have quickly become close colleagues and friends; it’s hard to believe they are so new to the Museum staff. I hope you will take the time to get to know the talented individuals who have recently joined fellow Educators Brandy Morrison, Meg Hall, Jill Byrd, and myself.

From left to right: Kaci Norman, Elisabeth Palmer, Laura Bocquin, and Kelly Bazan.


Ending Summer Vacation at the MMFA

Dinosaurs at the Museum, cool tours, and a romantic comedy are just a few of the upcoming artful attractions you can check out at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts this month. Take time out and use the MMFA events in August calendar as your guide to finishing the summer with a bang!


World Watercolor Month Project

July has been World Watercolor Month, so we wanted to share a step-by-step project that is easy to follow and fun to do! This project has only seven steps and was inspired by Frederick Warren Freer’s Boat on the Beach, a watercolor painting from 1892 that is a beautiful addition to the Museum’s collection of Freer’s artwork.  Anyone unfamiliar with basic watercolor techniques can find reference to those used in this project (Dark to Light/Feathering, Wet on Dry, and Wet on Wet) at the very end of this post.

We hope you enjoy creating your own watercolor painting, and please post your projects on Facebook and tag us with #MMFAWorldWatercolorMonth @MontgomeryMFA!


MMFA Director Retires After 23 Years

The Board of Trustees of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and Mark M. Johnson, Director of the Museum, announce his retirement effective August 15, 2017. Johnson served for 23 years, by far the longest tenure of any director in the Museum’s history.

Johnson is a native of Chicago, Illinois, and received a BA in art history/studio art from the University of Wisconsin, and an MA in art history/museum studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne. He then joined the staff of the education department at the Art Institute of Chicago, and later worked as a curator of art history at the Cleveland Museum of Art, before accepting the position of Assistant Director at the Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Subsequently, he was named Director of the Muscarelle Museum at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia.  He joined the staff of the MMFA as Director in August of 1994.

The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts is Alabama’s first art museum, founded in 1930. It is nationally recognized for its collections of American art, Old Master Prints, and regional works from the American South.

During Johnson’s tenure, the museum welcomed over 3 million visitors and acquired 1,700 works of art. Among the notable acquisitions were paintings by American masters including George Inness (1825–1894), Mary Cassatt (1844­–1926), Max Weber (1881­­–­1961), and Thomas Hart Benton (1889­–1975). He inaugurated the collection of American Studio Art Glass that now numbers more than 50 works. He also oversaw the growth of the Museum’s Old Master Print Collection and an expansion of the collection into traditional African art. The Museum undertook three major renovation or expansion projects during his tenure: the creation of the Weil Graphic Arts Study Center in honor of Adolph “Bucks” Weil Jr. in 1998, and the expansion of the education wing/ARTWORKS gallery and creation of the Margaret Berry Lowder Gallery in 2006. In 2014, the Museum broke ground for a sculpture garden presently under construction on the eastern side of the Museum.

At a meeting of the Board of Trustees held June 27, 2017, the Board acknowledged Johnson’s long tenure and accomplishments, and accorded him the honorary title, Director Emeritus.

At a subsequent meeting on Tuesday, July 25, 2017, the Board announced the appointment of Edwin C. Bridges, Ph.D., as the Interim Director of the Museum. Dr. Bridges is the former Director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, serving in that position from 1982 until his retirement in 2012. He has agreed to serve as Interim Director while the Museum’s Board of Trustees conducts a national search for a permanent director of the Museum.

Since his retirement, Dr. Bridges has continued to be involved in historical research and has completed a new general history of Alabama entitled Alabama: The Making of an American State, published in 2016 by the University of Alabama Press.  He has also been actively involved as a volunteer working for Alabama’s upcoming Bicentennial. Dr. Bridges comes to the Museum after a tremendous career as the well-respected director of one of Alabama’s most important historical organizations, and will be acting to insure a continuation of the Museum’s mission as well as a smooth transition for new leadership in the future.



Margaret Lynne Ausfeld
Curator of Art

Photograph of Ed Bridges courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives and History in Montgomery, Alabama.


Creativity and Imagination: 2017 MMFA Summer Art Camp

During the almost ten years I have worked in museum education, I have seen my share of summer art camps. Every year summer arrives with a little trepidation about the preparation, registration, and arrival of young artists excited about getting their hands—and inevitably their clothes—messy. At the MMFA, summer camps have been a well-oiled machine for years, and I was so glad for that coming in as a newcomer in January.

This summer, we had two art camps: a youth camp and our first ever art camp for teens ages 13-18. Although the teen group was small, they were dedicated and engaged throughout the week learning about alternative photography techniques and creating both individual artworks and group installation pieces. Following our successful teen camp were three youth camps that each week focused on a different theme: portraits, still-life, and landscapes. Having such a quality camp roster is due no doubt to the high caliber instructors that teach each session, all current and active in the art education field in Montgomery. The teachers were Amanda Ingram, Sarah Gill, Sara Woodard (featured above), Donna Pickens, and Sarah Struby,  and we were lucky to have them share their expertise and creative spirit with us.


The campers ranged in age from 6-13 and had a wide variety of interests and levels of exposure to art at the beginning of the camp. Campers experienced painting, printmaking, ceramics, mixed media and sculpture to just to name a few media as well as spending time in the galleries looking and discussing the art in the Museum’s collection. Within each medium campers learned about tone and shading, perspective, color, form and other basic elements of art. Each week ended with a student art show where the campers hosted a reception and exhibition of their work for their families. Families were delighted to see a variety of projects  ranging from Wayne Thiebaud inspired ceramic cupcakes to still-life works painted from real live cacti and sculptures made from paper clay exemplifying their children’s grown-up aspirations. The artworks that were created during all of our summer camps not only exemplified our campers’ creativity and imagination but also the level of learning and enrichment that happened throughout the week.



So as the last week of camp begins, the slight apprehension I felt before my first MMFA camp has been replaced with both a renewed enthusiasm for museum education and pride for art education at the MMFA.  As elementary schools lose art programs throughout the region it is imperative that organizations like the MMFA continue to offer these invaluable classes, camps, tours, and programs for visitors of all ages.  Art camp is only one of the many opportunities for children in the area to experience the visual arts both in the gallery and in the studio setting. Learning to look and discuss art is as important as getting to create art, and for those who participated in this year’s summer art camp they definitely got their fill of both.


Kaci Norman
Assistant Curator of Education, Youth, Family, and Studio Programs

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