The original Fine Arts Museum of the South

Text: The original Fine Arts Museum of the South



A Brief History of the Mobile Museum of Art

In 1963, The Board of Commissioners of the City of Mobile, and two private arts entities, the Allied Arts Council, and the Mobile Arts Association, agreed upon the creation of the “Mobile Art Gallery” with Ordinance No.99-220 on December 3, 1963, stating that The Mobile Art Gallery (later the Fine Arts Museum of the South at Mobile and subsequently renamed the Mobile Museum of Art) would serve as a beacon for visual art, and would: “Encourage, foster, stimulate and maintain among people of Mobile and its surrounding area an active and abiding interest in the visual arts.”

The original Mission Statement, used from 1963-1993, was as follows:
“Actively collect works of Art for its permanent collection not only for community enlightenment and betterment but to further enhance its stature as an outstanding center for visual arts in these Southeastern United States.”

[Source: The Mobile Art Gallery Constitution and Bylaws June 14, 1971]

In October 1964, the museum opened to the public in a 14,000 square-foot building in Langan Park. In 1976, a new wing of 13,500 square feet was added, with funding from the city, county and private contributors. From 1992 to 2001, the museum operated a 2,800 square-foot satellite gallery in the downtown area.

A large bequest for the construction of a gallery received in 1993 led to serious planning for a major museum expansion and a plan was adopted by the MMofA Board of Directors in January 1997. A goal of $15 million was set for the museum’s first major capital campaign, which was launched in early 1999. Ground was broken for the new facility in March 2000. During construction, the museum moved to temporary quarters in Mobile’s civic center downtown.

The move into the newly expanded building began in summer 2002 and culminated with the grand reopening on September 5 of that year. The opening exhibition, Picturing French Style: Three Hundred Years of Art and Fashion, was organized by the museum and coincided with the city of Mobile’s celebration of the 300th anniversary of its founding by the French.

Since that 2002 reopening, the museum has presented a dynamic exhibition schedule and has expanded its geographical reach, as it refined its educational programming. In 2014, the art museum celebrated its 50th Anniversary, launching a capital campaign to renovate and reinstall its public spaces, and presenting a weekend festival and organizing a 50th anniversary exhibition (The Art and Design of Mardi Gras). Today, the art museum continues to evolve in its service to the community, achieved through its programs, education and exhibitions as a public-private partnership.

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