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A2AC History

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Historical Timeline of the Ann Arbor Art Center

1909
The Ann Arbor Art Association was founded. It is one of the oldest arts organizations in Michigan and predates the University of Michigan academic art curriculum.

1910
Alumni Memorial Hall was built (now the University of Michigan Museum of Art). The space also functioned as a location for the Art Association to operate out of.

1912
1st Annual All Media Exhibition held.

1930
The Art Lending Service of the Ann Arbor Art Association was established. This service allowed individuals to rent original pictures by local artists for their homes, offices, or institutions for two-month periods at an inexpensive fee.

1934
the Michigan Daily established an Art Column in response to the community’s increasing interest in art. The column reported on new local exhibits and provided information on specific works of art, along with opinions and discussion questions.

1938
The Horace H. Rackham Building was built and served as more gallery space for the University of Michigan and the Art Association. The following year the Michigan School of Art was established.

1940
Membership numbers and funds were at an all-time low. In addition, The University required all of the space within the Alumni Memorial Hall. As a result, the Art Association was left solely with Rackham galleries for its future exhibition space.

1942
As a result of the war, the Art Association would collect no dues, and only the All-Media Exhibition would be held for the time being. For the first time, prizes were awarded at the exhibition, and they consisted of blocks of War Savings stamps.

1945
Ann Arbor Art Association resumed membership dues, and we brought 63 new members into the organization.

1946
The University of Michigan Museum of Art was inaugurated due to intensive work by the Ann Arbor Art Association members; this led the Art Association to direct its primary efforts towards promoting local and regional artists.

1957
The Art Association loaned the University of Michigan Museum of Art 24 works from their permanent collection for storage purposes, including five oils, six watercolors, twelve prints, and a sculpture, totaling $3,356.

1959
The 50th Anniversary of the Ann Arbor Art Association was celebrated. Emil Lorch and Jean-Paul Slusser co-author a book on the history of the Art Association titled, A Survey of Fifty Years: The Ann Arbor Art Association, 1909-1950.

The first Ann Arbor Art Fair was organized by the Art Association and local retail merchants, the South University Organization, the Chamber of Commerce, and the University of Michigan.

1972
The Ann Arbor Art Association donated their entire permanent art collection to the University of Michigan Museum of Art to complete their role as a non-profit organization with tax-exempt status. The collection was valued at $500,000.

The Art Association rented 2275 Platt Road as a temporary gallery and studio space until they purchased 117 West Liberty.

1975
Liberty Street Gallery (formerly Walker Carriage Works building) is purchased and renovated. For the first time in its history, the Art Association possesses its own space.

1980
First annual Potential! exhibition held. This yearly exhibition recognizes the work of outstanding artists of high school age and salutes their teachers who help train them.

1982
The Print
Exhibition established

1983
First annual WineFest held.

1984
The Art Association celebrated its 75th year of service to the city and region.

ArtMakers was launched.

1985
Recipient of Annie Award from the Washtenaw Council for the Arts as an outstanding arts organization.

1986
Community outreach programs started for deaf and hard of hearing individuals, the developmentally disabled, senior citizens, and schools that do not have art instruction.

Corporate Membership Program initiated, 150 business participants underwrote shows.

1987
Began improvements to programs with support from several sources.

Received Michigan Equity Grants for capital improvements.

50% increase in Michigan Council for the Arts funding.

1989
Completed restoration on the facade of 117 West Liberty.

Art Consulting Services are offered to local and regional businesses.

1991
Runner up for Crain’s Detroit Business Best-Managed Non-Profit Organization.
Expanded Programs with ArtVentures Studio.
Launched Art n’ Facts in the Ann Arbor Public Schools.

1992
First annual Sommelier Dinner held.

1993
Recipient of the prestigious Governors’ Arts Award for exceptional leadership as a Michigan arts organization.

1995
The Ann Arbor Art Association was renamed the Ann Arbor Art Center.

1996
ArtMakers Teens
launched.
Purchased The Art Factory on Felch Street to expand the ceramics, tile making, sculpture, jewelry, and fiber studios.
Funds provided by Chrysler enabled the Art Center to renovate a section of the Liberty Street building to house the Feat of Clay Studio.

1998
Endowment Fund established raised $95,000 in the first year.

1999
Lester John Challenge raised $217,000 to beautify and develop the exterior grounds of the Art Factory.

2000
www.annarborartcenter.org
was launched.
The Board of Directors established Marsha Chamberlin President’s Fund to honor her 20 years of organizational leadership.

2009
The Ann Arbor Art Center celebrates its 100th Anniversary!

2013
The Art Center hired Marie Klopf as its second President and CEO.

2014
The Roseann Hebeler Brown ARTLab (digital arts studio) was launched and immediately filled to 110% capacity. The Ann Arbor Art Center installed the Aquarium Gallery with a grant from the Ann Arbor chapter of the Awesome Foundation.

2015
The inaugural outdoor exhibition of contemporary art, POP-X, launched a reinvigoration of the Art Center’s exhibitions and engagement programs. The first phase of a comprehensive, third-floor renovation was completed leading to a doubling of facility rentals.

2016
The final phase of the third-floor renovation was completed with the launch of an upgraded and modernized Jewelry and Metalsmithing Studio.

2017
The City of Ann Arbor contracted A2AC to curate art exhibitions in City Hall chambers.

2018
The Ann Arbor Art Center serves a diverse and highly educated community that was ranked the nation’s most educated city, with the highest percentage of bachelor’s degree-holding residents for a population of more than 50,000.

2019
The Ann Arbor Art Center provides services to the Metropolitan Statistical Area of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, with a population of 370,963 people, as well as to the surrounding counties of Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, and Wayne: and served over 85,000 patrons.

2020
In March, the COVID-19 pandemic began and it forced the US, along within many other countries, to go into lockdown.

In April, the A2AC launched ArtBox: Outreach. This program started as a way to provide youth that were no longer in school with art supplies, but has since evolved and expanded. It now provides art supplies to all vulnerable populations – from youth that are involved in the juvenile justice system to adults and their caregivers that participate in memory care programs. 

A2AC also started a free art resource website, complete with art challenges and projects that can be completed with items found around one’s house; and launched a robust online shop, the A2AC Shop.

In July, A2AC raised $50,000 through a crowfunding campaign to continue the growth of Art in Public and A2AC Murals. These funds paid the artists a living wage and covered other mural expenses like equipment rentals, paint, permits, etc.

2021
In spring, A2AC began construction to renovate and connect our two downtown buildings; expanding the number of classroom/flexible spaces, adding a second ceramics studio and gallery space that will only feature student and instructor artwork, and making visual art more accessible to passersby with a street-facing exhibition gallery.

2022
As of February 2022, A2AC proudly owns both buildings mortgage-free and is actively working to connect and fully renovate them. Once the connection and renovation of the A2AC are complete (May 2022), we will have four new art education studios, including a second ceramics studio, and two new art exhibition spaces.