Lara M. Lewis
Director of Marketing and Public Relations
Image Library (Coming Soon)
The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts was founded in 1930 by a group of local artists and patrons under the name of the “Alabama Society of Fine Arts.” The Museum’s home for the first 29 years was the former Lawrence Street School at the corner of High and Lawrence Streets in downtown Montgomery.
Between 1930 and 1959, under the governance of the Board of Trustees of the Museum Association, the Museum's activities were supported primarily through memberships and private donations. In 1960, the Museum became a department of the City of Montgomery and, in 1983, Montgomery County joined the City to support the Museum as an equal partner, sharing the institution’s operating costs. Since 1930, the budget of the Museum has grown from $1,000 per year to more than $4 million. The staff has increased from a small volunteer force to over 50 full and part-time employees.
Until 1971, the Museum’s collections included historical objects, archeological artifacts and art. In that year, the focus of the Museum’s collections was redefined and the collecting and preservation of art became the focus of the Museum’s mission.
Education has been an integral part of the Museum’s program throughout its history. The Museum originally had an art school directed by Wetumpka artist J. Kelly Fitzpatrick until his death in 1953. A Department of Education was created in 1960 to facilitate the planning of tours for school students, workshops, outreach programs, puppet shows, films, lectures and, most recently, the ARTWORKS participatory learning gallery.
Between 1959 and 1988, the Museum shared the building at 440 South McDonough Street with the City-County Public Library. The City and the Museum’s Board of Trustees joined forces to raise more than six million dollars for a new Museum building, to be constructed in the Wynton M. Blount Cultural Park adjacent to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s Carolyn Blount Theatre.
The Museum opened in the Wynton M. Blount Cultural Park on September 18, 1988, featuring its collection of American paintings, sculpture and works on paper, with the addition of forty-one historical American paintings given by Blount Incorporated. An interactive gallery, ARTWORKS, was inaugurated to teach about art through interactive exploration and to complement the permanent collection. In 1993, more than 5,000 square feet of gallery space, made possible by a gift from Ida Belle Young, was added in order to increase the Museum’s ability to display contemporary and regional art from the permanent collection.
The Weil Graphic Arts Study Center, named for Adolph “Bucks” Weil, Jr., an outstanding connoisseur of art and collector of fine prints, was dedicated in May 1998. The Study Center and its ongoing programming and specialized exhibitions focus on the Museum’s growing collection of works on paper. The most recent additions to the building, completed in 2006, include the Margaret Berry Lowder Gallery, the Jean K. Weil Gallery, the Williamson Gallery, a second studio, an addition to ARTWORKS, the Wynona W. Wilson Orientation Center, the catering kitchen, the Docent Lounge, and additional office space.
Since the Museum moved into Blount Cultural Park, over 3 million visitors have enjoyed the wide range of exhibitions and programs. An unusually successful partnership of public and private commitment to the arts in Montgomery, Alabama has assured the future of one of the South’s premier cultural institutions.
- Founded in 1930, the MMFA is the oldest fine arts museum in Alabama.
- The Museum is located on 35+ acres of land donated to the. City of Montgomery by Mr. and Mrs. Winton M. Blount as part of the Wynton M. Blount Cultural Park.
- The facility contains 73,000 square feet of interior space, including 30,000 square feet of exhibition space, extensive education facilities, a 240-seat state-of-the-art auditorium, a fine arts library of more than 5,000 volumes, storage and preparation areas with a sophisticated climate-controlled system, a gift shop and a café.
- The Museum’s Education Wing, which opened in March 2006, doubled the size of the ARTWORKS gallery and added much-needed gallery, studio, office, and library space. ARTWORKS interactive gallery serves 60,000 parents and children each year.
- The Museum’s collection includes nearly 4,000 objects, including major collections of American art, Old Master prints, Southern regional art, and decorative arts.
- In addition to the Permanent Collection, the Museum exhibits six to eight temporary exhibitions each year organized by major museums across the country. Current year exhibitions include: The Art of the Theatre, African American Folk Art, Bessie Potter Vonnoh Sculpture, Patrick Dougherty site-specific sculpture, Montgomery Art Guild, Mia Pearlman Paper Sculpture and Contemporary Alabama Quilts.
- The MMFA organizes its own traveling exhibitions, such as Creativity: The Flowering Tornado, Art by Ginny Ruffner, Roger Brown: A Different Dimension, and Sonja Blomdahl: Incalmo/ Glass, which tour other cities in the United States.
- The Museum’s educational space includes the ARTWORKS gallery and studio, a hands-on participatory gallery designed to teach visitors of all ages about the elements of art and the Museum’s permanent collection.
- More than 150,000 visitors typically tour the Museum annually, representing all 50 states and more than 40 foreign countries. Thousands of youth participate in art classes offered in after-school programs or at local community centers.
- Admission to the Museum is free at all times. The MMFA is open to the public 310 days per year, closing only on Mondays, New Year’s Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
- The MMFA, a department of the City of Montgomery, is supported by funds from the City of Montgomery, Montgomery County, and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association.
- The Museum Association has more than 1800 individual and corporate members, who receive special benefits and opportunities.
The Museum delivers high quality, free services to all members of the community:
For the Public Schools...
- FREE pre-visit presentations to system-wide 3rd Graders
- FREE 3-part tours to system-wide 3rd graders
- FREE City/County/Private teacher training workshops
- FREE exhibition tours to public school classes
- FREE ARTWORKS tours to school classes
For the Community...
- FREE outreach summer classes to at-risk youth in community centers
- FREE after school art classes to at-risk elementary students in the Weed & Seed area
- Loans FREE video, slide and book resources to school and community groups
- FREE art-related puppet show & follow-up tour to children ages 3-6
For Other Groups...
- Teaches a group of 50 docents (volunteer tour guides) about art for use in guided tours
- FREE lectures for adult audiences on a variety of topics
- Makes arrangements and suggestions for FREE self-guided groups by request
- FREE family events
- FREE senior citizens events
- Comparable Museums - Attendance
Mark M. Johnson, Director
Mark M. Johnson has worked in the museum field for over 32 years. He has been the director and chief curator of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts since 1994, where he is responsible for all aspects of museum management, including acquisitions, publications, exhibitions development, business management, personnel, and fundraising. He served as director of the Muscarelle Museum of Art, College of William and Mary from 1985 to 1994 and also has held positions at the Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and The Art Institute of Chicago. Throughout his career, Mr. Johnson has organized major traveling exhibitions; published numerous books, exhibition catalogues, articles, and educational brochures.
Margaret Lynne Ausfeld, Curator of Art
Margaret Lynne Ausfeld (M.A. Museum Studies/Art History, The George Washington University) is the Museum’s Senior Curator. She is responsible for the administration of the curatorial department and its budget, and has been the curator in charge of the permanent collection for more than 20 years. She is an author of the Museum's paintings collection catalogue, American Paintings from the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, published in 2006, as well as essays and articles related to American painting of the 20th century.
Lara Lewis, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
Montgomery native Lara Lewis graduated from Auburn University where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. She serves as the Director of Marketing and Public Relations for the Museum where she is responsible for developing public relations strategies and marketing the exhibitions, education programs, and special events. She also handles media and community relations while working to expand the Museum’s role as a premier arts institution. Prior to joining the Museum, Lara served as the Member Relations Director for the Capital City Club in Montgomery and as Membership and Public Relations Director for Manufacture Alabama, the state's manufacturing association. Lara has been recognized with an Award of Excellence by the Public Relations Council of Alabama for her work.