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Mission and History

The University of Michigan Museum of Art seeks to transform individual and civic life by promoting the discovery, contemplation, and enjoyment of the art of our world.

UMMA's ApseWelcome to the University of Michigan Museum of Art—a meeting place for the arts situated at the heart of a great university.

With the addition in 2009 of the 53,000 square foot Maxine and Stuart Frankel and the Frankel Family Wing and the restoration of historic Alumni Memorial Hall, UMMA ushered in a new era, a reimagining of the university art museum as a new “town square” for the 21st century. With dramatic new galleries highlighting works drawn from the Museum’s collections of more than 20,000 artworks (representing over 150 years of collecting at the University), special exhibition spaces that soar with new life, “open storage” galleries, and a range of lively educational and event spaces, UMMA is committed to making this your museum.

Meeting spaces for campus and community organizations, new programs in the visual, performing, and literary arts, a new UMMA Store, and new spaces to relax—all these enhancements seek to place the arts at the center of public life. Whether you’re here for a moment of quiet contemplation, a lively debate about the meaning of art, a performance, class, or event, or just a little down time, we hope you’ll make UMMA a habit.

Welcome to UMMA, and enjoy your time with us!
 

Mission

One of the finest university art museums in the country, UMMA holds collections representing 150 years of art collecting. A dynamic schedule of special exhibitions and interpretative programs connects visitors with the rich artistic legacy of the past and today’s avant-garde.

One of the Museum of Art’s most important roles is its contribution to the academic mission of the University of Michigan. From the research and study uses of the extraordinary works of art in our collections, to the teaching implications of all of our temporary exhibitions, the Museum plays an increasingly central role in the academic life of the University, even as it connects to broad regional and national community audiences.
 

UMMA's Alumni Memorial Hall

History

The University of Michigan’s art collection is among the oldest in the nation in university hands. In 1856, years before the great civic art museums in Detroit, Toledo, or Chicago were founded, U-M students and the general public had free access to an art gallery on campus.

The art collection found a permanent home in Alumni Memorial Hall upon its completion in 1910. Built to serve several purposes—war memorial to the UM students and faculty who served in nineteenth century wars, alumni association headquarters, lecture halls and meeting rooms—the building was also designed to showcase and provide storage for art, thanks in large measure to U-M President James Burrill Angell, a tireless advocate for the museum throughout his tenure (1871–1909).

Throughout the twentieth century, the collections grew via gifts and judicious purchases, and at several key junctures, plans were made to find larger quarters In the late 1990s, with room to display only a small fraction of its holdings (and straining to accommodate its increasingly ambitious roster of arts programming) plans to expand and renovate Alumni Memorial Hall began in earnest.