September, 2014

Shiny and New

Shiny and New

I hope you are enjoying the beautifully renovated and renewed KMA. The landmark Clayton Building sparkles inside and out, looking even more handsome than when it opened to the public on March 25, 1990. This gorgeous container, now enhanced by the new North Garden, offers three floors of important, interesting, and engaging works (including Richard Jolley’s Cycle of Life, the largest figural glass installation anywhere) that connect us to rich local traditions and to artistic developments around the globe. We have much to celebrate as we begin the KMA’s twenty-fifth year in the Clayton Building!

Despite the noise, dust, and disruption of construction last fall, our board committees and staff managed to craft a roadmap for the next three years to guide us beyond the exciting transformational period we have just completed. Vision 2018: Realizing the Potential of the Renewed KMA sets out a framework for thinking about how and where we will grow, change, and improve. The question is not whether the museum can continue to do well, but rather how it can now leverage its considerable advantages to assume an even higher profile locally, regionally, and nationally. In short, how can the KMA achieve its highest potential?

I invite you to visit to read Vision 2018 in detail. You can dig into the details of the numerous steps we have outlined to move forward; here I can only touch lightly on some of our general goals for the next few years. In brief, we want the KMA to:

. . . reflect and help shape the region’s cultural identity and nurture its aspirations.
. . . meaningfully engage diverse audiences.
. . . attract visitors and support from a wide area.
. . . generate the diversified revenue streams that will sustain operations and foster future growth.
. . . adhere to the highest and best professional practices in administration and governance.

Some of the specific actions that support these goals, like the new exhibitions and public programs featured elsewhere in this edition of Canvas, will be highly visible. We are especially excited about showing the work of acclaimed photographer Danny Lyon beginning in August. This exhibition, organized by The Menil Collection, Houston, has also provided the occasion to enrich the KMA collection with several dozen prints of the images Lyons created on a sojourn in Knoxville in 1960s. Other activities outlined in Vision 2018 will take place behind the scenes but are no less important. Looming large this fall is the task of preparing for reaccreditation by the American Alliance of Museums. Accreditation is a distinction achieved by only very small percentage of museums across the country, and we have been working the past several years to update policies and procedures, address facility issues, and make sure that every aspect of the museum’s operations conforms to the highest professional standards. If all goes according to plan, the rigorous accreditation process should be mostly complete during our twenty-fifth anniversary year.

We enter this milestone year with such high expectations thanks to the success of the 25th Anniversary Campaign, which has made possible so many improvements and upgrades. Just over $9 million has been pledged to date. We are confident that, with the announcement of the public phase of the campaign, we will reach our ultimate goal $10 million in pledges. Even though construction has been completed and is (mostly) paid for, we still need to add to our operating and program endowment and create a reserve capital fund to ensure that this beautiful facility stays this way. The completion of the capital campaign goes hand in hand with preparations to celebrate a landmark anniversary, throwing the spotlight on the museum’s history, growth, and development, and what it has meant to this community. The coming year provides a wonderful opportunity to recognize our founding mothers and fathers, those who have sustained us since 1990, and those who have contributed to the current campaign and supported the KMA’s brilliant renewal. I have said elsewhere, and it bears repeating, that while the completion of building repairs and campus enhancements might represent the end of a long process, we are now embarking on a vibrant new phase in the history of the museum and the community it serves. I remain convinced that our best years lie ahead.

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