As we ready for a new year, excitement continues to grow as we look ahead to our 35th year anniversary!
Since 1987, WMA has evolved from an idea to a pop-up art exhibition in a commercial mall space into an active, vibrant museum with a focus on contemporary art. The museum is a platform for artists to tell their stories and is a community gathering space where cultural sharing is encouraged among all. Our programs fulfill WMA’s aim to unify, inspire and educate audiences, and are created to reflect a diversity of ages, races, genders, cultures, and ideologies.
As you’ve hopefully heard by now, WMA is taking steps to grow and to 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. WMA, in partnership with the City of Dothan, has engaged with experts at M. Goodwin Museum Planning (MGMP) to perform an assessment for the long term needs of the museum facility and operations. MGMP, a national leader in museum planning, has more than 35 years of experience in facility and organizational planning for 150+ museums throughout the US and internationally, and we are excited to be working with them over the next few months.
Once accredited, WMA will have opportunities 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. The arts, as we all know, are a powerful tool for individual and social development, and the arts are also a transformative tool for economic development. The museum’s ability to grow, and to serve greater numbers of residents and visitors, will serve as a direct catalyst for our region’s growth for generations to come.
In recent years, WMA has raised expectations for what a small art museum can do. For us, this begins with building trust within our Wiregrass community.
We’ve created opportunities for learning in and beyond the classroom by consistently working alongside educators and students to connect them to high-quality and engaging arts learning resources, advocating for the role of the visual arts as an essential component of comprehensive education. Strategic partnerships and outreach programs invite the community to become more involved in long-term initiatives at WMA, and have allowed us to build a strong, multigenerational base of support. Art museums worldwide are adapting to ever-changing audience needs and expectations, and WMA has utilized strategic planning, innovative programming, and technology to remain relevant and to provide excellent resources for our diverse constituents.
Artists have lent their voices to support intentional, forward-thinking arts programming. We prioritize creative expression and give artists agency and freedom to realize new ideas, to experiment, and to work directly with the public. Exhibitions and programs have provided the platform for important conversations on race relations, history, housing and homelessness, veterans’ issues, mental health, women’s rights, and civic freedoms, among other topics. Our commitment to internal best practices and industry standards is evident in our recent successes in collections stewardship.
WMA has secured financial support and professional expertise through multiple and ongoing awards from Alabama State Council on the Arts, The National Endowment for the Humanities, and Collections Assessment for Preservation Program (CAP), providing the museum with in-depth reports from museum professionals and field experts on the condition of our collections as well as challenges related to the facility. Those challenges identified have served as a baseline for our current facility and operations needs assessment with MGMP, which will conclude by the end of this year. We’ll continue to work over the coming months, identifying the specific needs for a state of the art museum that will serve the public at the highest levels.
‘Art elevates the everyday’, and WMA elevates our community’s ability to move into a rapidly changing future with confidence. We imagine a future in which our art museum transforms its city and region with creativity and innovation, actively improving opportunities for people to grow personally and professionally.
As we work towards these remarkable goals, WMA’s history of success positions the museum as a bold leader in Dothan’s transformation.