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The University of Michigan Museum of Art believes that life is better when it is shared — shared with others, and shared with art.

Our mission.

The U-M Museum of Art puts art and ideas at the center of campus and public life. We create experiences that enrich our understanding of one another, foster joy, and build a more just future. Through exhibitions, programs, research, and community partnerships, we are redefining what a campus museum can be.

Image by Bentley Historical Library of Alumni Memorial Hall


The University of Michigan’s art collections have been freely available to the campus and community since 1856, before many museums in the country were even founded. UMMA was formally established in 1946 as the primary site for engagement with visual art on campus. In the University’s vision statement, art is considered a “human essential and a foundation that helps to define our future.” Art has long occupied a prominent place in the university’s mission and values — and UMMA is the most public reflection of this priority.

Strategic Plan

The UMMA Strategic Plan is guiding the Museum’s work for the next five years. The plan follows four strategies that support UMMA’s Core Values of Art, Equity, Collaboration, Change, and Care.

How do we lead real change in museums, so that the communities we care about can thrive in the 21st century? This is the question that we strive to answer every day at UMMA.

Christina Olsen, Director
About the Director

UMMA‘s core values

Through a series of all-staff and small group conversations, UMMA staff articulated five Core Values that will guide the Museum’s work going forward.

Art. Equity. Collaboration. Change. Care.

ART – Art strengthens human connection and creates a more just future.

This means we:

  • Create experiences with art that transform the way we see each other and the world
  • Support individuals and communities in finding meaning through art
  • Support artists in creating, sharing, and preserving their art
  • Embrace the capacity of art to build empathy, social cohesion, and foster joy

EQUITY – Access to art is a fundamental human right.

This means we:

  • Actively dismantle barriers to participation for everyone
  • Continually build UMMA’s intercultural understanding and anti-racist practice
  • Amplify BIPOC voices and under-told stories
  • Create spaces that are welcoming and equitable for all
  • Make UMMA’s collection accessible for all, both in-person and online

COLLABORATION – Collaboration is central to everything we do.

This means we:

  • Embrace partnerships across the U-M campus
  • Invest in intentional, consistent, and reciprocal relationships
  • Learn from and co-create projects with the communities we seek to engage
  • Respect and cultivate diverse expertise

CHANGE – Museums must change their practices to be relevant to, and support, a breadth of communities.

This means we:

  • Support new ways of creating, collaborating, and learning
  • Take informed risks and learn from our mistakes
  • Initiate challenging projects that illuminate ideas and spark growth
  • Question assumptions about what a campus museum should be

CARE – We care for our colleagues, collaborators, communities, and art.

This means we:

  • Extend genuine empathy, kindness, and generosity
  • Honor the rich diversity of people, experiences, and ideas
  • Compensate staff and collaborators fairly and invest in their well-being and growth
  • Steward UMMA’s art and resources

Our Commitment
to Anti-Racist

Historically, museums have struggled with inclusivity and solidarity. UMMA is poised to actively create a new standard for anti-racist action as an institution with deep ties in the community. We commit to:

  • Amplify BIPOC perspectives and voices
  • Be honest and transparent about our history and collections
  • Make the museum an open, safe, comfortable, and equitable place
  • Mandate anti-racist staff development and education

And our efforts to stand with traditionally excluded community members don’t end there. Keep reading to learn more.