The University of Michigan Museum of Art in Ann Arbor, MI holds a collection of more than 20,000 works that have been collected over 150 years by the university. The Museum’s collection is the oldest university collection in the United States.
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The museum began in 1856 when University of Michigan students put together a gallery that was free to the public of art works collected by the University. This was the first collection owned by a University to be displayed for the public. In 1910, the UMMA was moved to its permanent home in Alumni Memorial Hall where UM President James Burrill Angell had advocated for a museum from 1871-1909. Plans to expand the museum as the collections and holdings grew lead to talks of renovations to the hall in the 1990’s.
In Spring of 2009, UMMA hosted a grand reopening after a three-year expansion and renovation project that doubled the museum gallery space by adding a 53,000-square foot wing and restoring the Alumni Memorial Hall. That first year after the reopening, the museum received 250,000 visitors. This expansion allowed for the collection to triple on the gallery floors and provided classrooms, meeting spaces and an auditorium.
UMMA collection is comprised of more than 20,000 works with strengths in the European Renaissance to the 19th century. The Museum also holds renowned work in Asian Antiquities, and modern American art as well as African sculpture. UMMA allows its collections to be viewed online and was one of the first museums in the country to upload its collections to the web. The permanent collection of the museum continues to grow while the curators put together permanent, temporary, and special exhibitions from the works. Details and schedules for exhibitions can be found on the UMMA website.
African Art- African art works make up more than 1,000 pieces of the UMMA collection with representation of nearly all people of the continent. The Congo Region and central Africa represent the most significant works. Metalworks, masks, textiles, ceramics, and sculpture are highlighted in this collection.
Asian Art- With more than 4,500 pieces in the collection of Asian art at UMMA, it is the largest in the state of Michigan. Works date back as far as the third millennium B.C. with strengths in painting and ceramics from China, paintings from Japan and Buddhist sculpture from Southeast Asia. Countries represented in this collection also include Korea, Middle East, South Asia.
Decorative Arts/Design- This collection mostly focuses on 20th century furniture and domestic designs. Louis Comfort Tiffany is highlighted in this collection as well as Frank Lloyd Wright and objects inspired by European modernists
Modern/Contemporary Art- Covering the entire 20th century to present day, this collect houses notable artist works from Pablo Picasso to Joan Mitchell and Sally Mann. Cubism, Surrealism, Expressionism have significant representation within the contemporary/modern collection.
Photography- The photography collection at UMMA features work by Willian Henry Fox Talbot, one of the earliest photographers and many other renowned photogs including Alvin Langdon Coburn, Aflred Stieglietz and many others. There are also modern photographers represented from the 20th century through present including Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, and Nikki S. Lee. There are also photos by Andy Warhol.
Western Art- The collection of western art is divided into two categories—European and American. The European collection spans the late medieval period through modern day and is strong in paintings, sculpture, works on paper as well as decorative arts while the American collection is partial to the 19th and 20th centuries and holds significant landscape work by notable artists such as Whistler. The American collection also has a vast array of folk art and photography.
The UMMA is available as a teaching gallery for students and researchers at the University of Michigan. There are study rooms and cases that can be filled with select pieces for each class or research project. Self-guided tours are always available and docents can work with educators to tailor guided group tours to the class curriculum or needs. Private tours can also be arranged for groups of 10 or more with 3 weeks notice. Docent tours are also scheduled for the public with details available on the UMMA website.
Story Time at the Museum- Children age 4-7 are invited to hear a story and participate in a corresponding story in the museum galleries.
Family Studio Art- Families and their elementary age children can explore artistic mediums through classes lead by community artists and educators. These hands-on workshops also include a gallery tour.
525 South State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, Phone: 734-764-0395