November, 2012

Big, Exciting Changes Are Coming to the KMA

Big, Exciting Changes Are Coming to the KMA

One new thing at the KMA is this blog, a more timely, immediate, and interactive vehicle than Canvas, its quarterly paper counterpart. This new (and as yet unnamed) blog provides more substantive content than the quick emails we send out regularly, plus a richer mix of media to give you better information and greater insight.

The museum begins a period of change and growth in solid financial shape and with a strong sense of identity and mission:   “The Knoxville Museum of art celebrates the art and artists of East Tennessee; introduces new art and new ideas; engages, educates, and serves a diverse community; enhances Knoxville’s quality of life and economic development; and operates ethically, responsibly, and transparently as a public trust.”  Higher Ground: A Century of the Visual Arts in East Tennessee, the museum’s flagship installation, has definitively established the idea that the KMA is first and foremost about the rich and distinctive visual culture of our region. A lively schedule of diverse and sophisticated temporary exhibitions presents the best of our own local traditions in the context of national and international artistic developments.  A new ongoing installation—Currents:  Recent Art from East Tennessee and Beyondthat opened in November brings up to the present the story of the visual arts in our region and their relationship to the wider world.  (Curator Stephen Wicks will be sharing more about Currents in this space soon.)

We were gratified that Allison Glock in the August/September 2012 issue of Garden & Gun noted the KMA’s deep roots in its community:

“The KMA knows where it lives. Thus, cocktail parties with local swing and countrypolitan bands. Kid-friendly exhibits, camps, and student shows.  Adult art instruction and education classes. It’s made it a mandate to be part of the community, not a rarified cultural orchid. That said, the art rocks. To wit, its permanent installation Higher Ground: A Century of the Visual Arts in East Tennessee, an internationally regarded show of the long neglected visual tradition of the region.”

Driving many of the upcoming changes is the projected April 2014 opening of Richard Jolley’s monumental glass installation in the museum’s Great Hall, the generous gift of Ann and Steve Bailey. There can be no stronger affirmation of the KMA’s commitment to the art and artists of our own region. Here are some images of Richard and his crew in the West Knoxville studio creating elements of this amazing, 180-foot-long composition, probably the largest figural glass assemblage in existence when it is finished.

(Photo credit: Hei Park)

This momentous occasion for the KMA provides an unparalleled opportunity to refurbish and upgrade the landmark Clayton Building, complete the long-vacant North Garden, create a dedicated art acquisition fund, grow the operating and program endowments, and build cash reserves for facility maintenance and repair. The KMA Board of Trustees and museum staff have been working hard to get everything ready to take on the formidable task of raising the funds needed to carry out these vital tasks.  The Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Campaign (the opening of the Jolley installation coincides with the beginning of a quarter century of museum operations in the Clayton Building) will not only get us ready to welcome the world to Knoxville, but will also leave the KMA in better shape physically, financially, and programmatically.  The campaign will be announced officially once pledges have been confirmed from museum trustees and key stakeholders.  And we’ll keep you apprised of any public access changes or building closures that might be necessitated by construction and repairs in the coming months.

I want to thank Cat Coombs, who was tremendously helpful in gathering material on the Jolley installation and laying the groundwork for this blog during her internship last winter supported by the Windgate Foundation Internship Program, Center for Craft, Creativity & Design, UNC Asheville.

Help us find a name for this blog!  We have a nice gift certificate to the museum shop for the person who sends us the best suggestion.



  1. I’m looking forward to seeing the Jolley installation!

    Comment by Nicole — November, 2012 @

  2. Great KMA news source. Kudos for adding this to our web site!

    Comment by KH — December, 2012 @

  3. Sad to see anti-TVA POSTER by 6th grader showing black carbon smoke from Bull Run. It shames the environment movement’s attachment to myth.

    Comment by James Newby — December, 2012 @

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment