The Mobile Museum of Art in Mobile, Alabama seeks to provide a thought-provoking atmosphere, where guests are enriched by interacting with the visual arts. To educate, the museum conserves, collects, interprets, researches, and exhibits art.

The museum’s permanent collection of 10,000 works is comprised of European, American, Asian and African art featuring sculptures, paintings, drawings, prints, and decorative art. Significant holdings include: realist paintings from the WPA era, 19th-century American landscapes, turned wood and ceramics, and contemporary international studio glass.

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In 1957, the Mobile Museum of Art was launched by the Mobile Art Association. 1963 saw the establishment of the Mobile Art Gallery. The museum opened to the public in a large building in Langan Park in 1964, and then a new wing was added in 1976, with city funding and monies from private and county contributors. The museum ran a satellite gallery downtown, from 1992 to 2001.

In 1993, a bequest was received to construct a gallery. This bequest gave way to thinking about a significant museum expansion and the MMofA Board of Directors adopted a plan in January 1997. The museum’s first capital campaign set a goal of $15 million and the effort was underway in 1999. Finally, the museum broke ground for its new facility in March 2000.

The museum hosted a re-opening on September 5, 2002 with Picturing French Style: Three Hundred Years of Art and Fashion, an exhibition that coincided with Mobile’s celebration of its founding by the French 300 years earlier.

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2.Past & Present Exhibitions

Past & Present Exhibitions  

Through January 1, visitors will be treated to Chinese Bronzes: Gifts from the David and Inger Duberman Collection at the Mobile Museum of Art. This is the initial presentation to the public of 30 Chinese bronzes, which were donated in 2015 to the museum.

The bronzes were amassed over 50 years, and span the Yuan, Ming, and early Qing Dynasties, representing 500 years of bronze artistry. The pieces were made for private and public purposes, and the Chinese philosophical and religious traditions of Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism are the primary themes of these pieces, plus visitors will see a swath of cultural symbols, including the phoenix and dragon.

American Art: 1945 to the Present is an expansion on the theme of another museum exhibition: 150 Years of American Art (ca. 1795- 1945). The first-floor exhibition essentially gives a visual narrative of America as seen through art; this latest exhibition includes the decorative arts and art, which has been produced since World War II, when art in America was seen as a major force in the art world across the globe.

As New York, rather than Paris, became the center of the art world, artists in America departed from European traditions – and the past. Art work in America, in scale and theme, grew outsized, more gestural and abstract, as American artists created a new vocabulary for themselves. In its collection, the museum has works that represent top artists from the United States. Many works have rarely been seen, if at all. The work of artists who have been recognized nationally and regionally is exhibited.

Contemporary American artists can be seen in three related exhibitions in adjacent galleries. These exhibits represent the continuation of the bold vocabulary of American art today. On view are Hiroshi Sueyoshi’s site specific installation Rock Garden, Raine Bedsole’s site specific installation You are the River, and John Cerney: SELFIE.

In the Katharine C. Cochrane Gallery, visitors will come face to face with the American art story, which is the story of America itself: the people and their environment, typical lives, and their interaction with others and the world. Prior to 1776 and afterwards, the painting of portraits was a predominant event as leading citizens and their families sought to celebrate and flaunt their achievements – even more so as the American colonies moved toward becoming an independent country. At that time, art could be said to include certain household items as silversmiths, furniture makers, glassmakers, weavers, and potters produced their crafts to compete with imports. With the War of Independence, artists in America sought to convey the meaning of war – with its victories, heroes, and tragedies – sometimes keeping in mind Old World painting as a model.

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3.More Exhibitions

More Exhibitions  

With independence and westward expansion, the immense landscape caught the attention of American artists. Beginning in the 1820s through the 1860s, there was the widespread belief that nature was “the visible expression of the divine” and that “to study nature would bring one closer to God’s handiwork and so to God’s revelation.” These beliefs were rendered in art. Although American artists could be trained in major cities, many ventured to Europe, with its established museums, to learn to become part of that artistic tradition. This continued throughout the entire nineteenth century.

After a time, artists hailing from America and Europe saw what they considered modern life as worthy of art. In the middle of the nineteenth century, American landscape artists started to weave into their work African Americans and Native Americans, and there was a shift expressed – a movement to depict the stress of modern urban life. With the Great Depression, came an interest in conveying the difficulties of the period realistically. At the same time, some artists began to favor European Modernism – Cubism, Fauvism, Surrealism, Dada, and abstraction – which made a strong showing in 1913 at New York City’s Armory Show. Yet, even as stylistic and intellectual trends of the 1920s and 1930s were influenced by Europe and those artists who came to the United States because of World War II, art maintained an American bias. That American flavor would lead artists to convey their own modernist art and influence the schools of abstraction.

In the Mary and Charles Rodning Gallery, visitors will see the museum’s long tradition of connections with Asia. Asian goods did indeed pass through its port, while the camellias and azaleas that one sees in Mobile originated in Japan and China. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many travelers, like Christian missionaries, used Mobile as a base for making their way to the Far East and returning from it.

One exceptional resident of Mobile – for his connection to Asian Art – was Ernest Fenollosa, who lived from 1853-1908. He is credited for spearheading the nation’s interest in Japanese and Chinese art. He was born in Massachusetts and educated at Harvard, and for a few years, he made Spring Hill his home, with Mary McNeil Scott, his second wife. The pair established a Japanese garden, that is not in existence any longer, but the Charles Wood Japanese Garden pays him tribute. Fenollosa’s posthumous two-volume “Epochs of Chinese and Japanese Art,” was published in 1912.

Asian art comes from many sources. Early examples, like the bronzes and ceramics, were buried to accompany the deceased in the afterlife. Frescoes and sculptures and hanging scrolls come from temples, sanctuaries, and private home altars where they were used as part of Buddhist worship. The privileged classes enjoyed exquisitely crafted ceramics, bronzes, enamels, and textiles.

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4.Future Exhibitions

Future Exhibitions  


The Art Patrons League of Mobile was a volunteer, non-profit woman’s organization that dedicated itself to promoting the visual arts.

From 1964 to 2004, the Art Patrons League’s community service, fundraising, public art projects and art education enriched the lives of area citizens.

One of their ongoing projects was to place quality art in public places. One of their goals was to add nationally recognized artists to the museum’s collection, so work from 1964-2004 will be exhibited, beginning July 8.


Inspired by the museum’s growing collection of contemporary glass and ceramics, decorative art collectors Ward A. Paul and Charles G. Schoenknecht committed to make a substantial gift from their collection. Beginning July 8, A PASSION FOR THE PAST, PART II: THE INTERNATIONAL STYLE EVOLUTION 1880 -1960 presents the highlights beginning with objects from the Aesthetic Style (1880s), Art Nouveau (1890 -1914), Arts and Crafts Movement (1900 -1914), Art Moderne (1920 -1940) and Mid-Century Modernism (!950 – 1960).


On view beginning July 8, The Bay Area Art Educators Annual Exhibition explores the variety of ways art works and the work of making art.

The Museum Store and Coffee Cafe

The Coffee Café and Museum Store are open during museum hours. Visitors can enjoy treats and coffee, plus toys, gifts, accessories, and household items. Many items are the work of regional artists. The Back Room Gallery, part of The Museum Store, hosts regional artists’ works, which is sold on consignment.

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4850 Museum Drive, Mobile, Alabama 36608-1917, Phone: 251-208-5200

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Things to Do in Alabama: Mobile Museum of Art