2a. Mission Statement:
“To enrich lives through modern art” was adopted as the Akron Art Museum’s mission statement on January 25, 2000 by the Board of Trustees. The mission appears as Article 11, section 1 of the Constitution (amended to include the new mission September 26, 2000 at the annual members’ meeting; previously ratified September 1990). The mission also appears at the beginning of the strategic plan.
The museum carries out its mission by:
• Promoting awareness, interest, appreciation, education and participation in the fine and applied arts produced since 1850.
• Maintaining a museum where such works of art are displayed and interpreted for the enjoyment and education of the public.
• Acquiring for its collection and conserving for the benefit of the community significant objects of high artistic merit, with new acquisitions focusing on contemporary painting, sculpture and photography by regional, national and international artists.
• Cooperating with diverse educational and cultural institutions, as well as interested community groups and individuals, in developing the means for increased understanding and enjoyment of the arts and related humanities created since 1850 and especially in recent years.
2b. Organization History / Organizational Overview. Index of important events in organization's history.:
The museum was founded in 1922 as the Akron Art Institute, a privately supported organization that combined general art exhibitions and formal art instruction, located in part of Akron’s Carnegie Library. In the 1950s, the institute took over the entire library building. For a short time, the Art Institute included an accredited art school, but by the 1960s, as local universities developed stronger art departments, the museum school closed. In the 1970s, the institute redefined its mission to become a modern art museum focusing on Western art since 1850, with a specialization in contemporary art. With this focus, it would not duplicate the goals of museums in nearby Cleveland, Youngstown and Oberlin, and would be able to attain quality exhibitions, programs and acquisitions with modest financial resources. The institute became noted for its role in presenting regional and national contemporary art, especially photography.
In 1980, the institute changed its name to the Akron Art Museum. The following year it renovated and moved into the former downtown Post Office and constructed a sculpture garden for its entrance. An assortment of objects from the collection was deaccessioned and replaced with important contemporary works consistent with the mission to become a museum of modern art. Since 1981, staffing and educational programs have greatly expanded and the annual budget has tripled.
Since 1987, a commitment to increasing endowment has stabilized operating income and created permanent acquisition endowment funds. The first catalogue raisonné on the collection was published in 1986. In June 2001, the museum published a 267-page hardback book with essays and photos of the 100 best works in the collection. Since 1990, exhibitions organized by the museum have traveled coast to coast as well as to Japan and Australia. The museum was re-accredited by AAM in 1996.
The past several years have been some of the most exciting in the museum’s history. In addition to achieving records in both attendance and acquisitions, 75% of the capital campaign funding has been raised for the new Akron Art Museum. Construction commenced in July 2004 and the building will open in May 2007. Designed by the celebrated Viennese architecture firm Coop Himmelb(l)au, the new museum will contain a lobby, galleries, shop, café, art storage and handling areas. The existing building will house a classroom, library, children’s gallery and offices. This expansion is the most important development since the museum was founded and is the result of an extensive strategic planning process, focus groups and two feasibility studies (for fundraising and building needs). Agreement was widespread that a new facility would better serve this region.
2c. Exhibition / Programming / Publishing History.:
The museum’s mission has, since 1980, mandated modern art, which we define broadly as regional, national and international art since 1850. Selections from the collection are on continuous view. Temporary exhibitions offer regional, national and international art and feature art in all media.