Next year marks WMA’s 35th anniversary and as I reflect on the museum’s history, I’m grateful for early supporters who wanted the best for their community and who worked tirelessly to found our museum. Their vision for Dothan included the arts, and look how far we’ve come. It’s clear that “Art Elevates the Everyday”; and that WMA elevates our community and our region. Not merely an attraction, WMA actively makes the Wiregrass a better place to live, learn, and work.
I’m reminded of an exhibition we hosted a few years ago with artist Doug Baulos, titled “Alabama Reckoner”. In this exhibition, they presented intricate, mixed media installations representing portraits of other Alabama artists – the idea being that Alabama has connected them all. They also included a statement in the exhibition that continues to resonate with me today:
There are many things in Alabama that you have never dreamed of…
I think about this statement a lot, and as we plan for the long term sustainability of WMA, and just like early supporters who dreamed of a new art museum, we aspire to be even more for the next generation. A longtime supporter of the museum told me recently that WMA was “more than they had ever dreamed it would be.” It’s true that over the years, we’ve increased our reach, expanded programming, and remained committed to free admission. I’m sure it’s the transformative power of art at play. WMA is a place where creativity and innovation live and our shared commitment to excellence has remained constant all of these years.
It’s because of this, as we look forward to our 35th year anniversary, that WMA is taking steps to improve and ensure the continued pursuit of lifelong learning, community-building, and cultural sharing by pursuing national accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), a mark of distinction in the museum field achieved by less than 4% of museums in the U.S.. Last year, we participated in the nationally recognized Museum Assessment Program (MAP) to see where the gaps were in our organization. The MAP Report now serves as a roadmap to our next steps towards accreditation, and recommendations are being incorporated into WMA’s new strategic plan, which will be completed this fall; as we continue to move forward with this process, I’ll continue to update you.
Our bold vision for the future is exciting and attainable! Once achieved, accreditation opens doors of opportunity for WMA to access art and artists from major institutions across the country, expand educational initiatives and strategic partnerships, elevating the Wiregrass as a national destination for the arts. As we work towards these remarkable goals, WMA’s history of success positions the museum as a bold leader in Dothan’s transformation through the arts.
Executive Director and Curator