The history of the Ann Arbor Art Center

Walker Carriage Works in Ann Arbor

Historical Timeline of the Ann Arbor Art Center

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

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

1st Annual All Media Exhibition held.

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

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

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.

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

As a result of the war the Art Association decided that no dues would be collected 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.

Membership dues were resumed and 63 new members were brought into the organization.

The University of Michigan Museum of Art was inaugurated as the result of intensive work by the Ann Arbor Art Association members; this led the Art Association to direct its main efforts towards the promotion of local and regional artists.

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; with a total value of $3,356.

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 along with local retail merchants, the South University Organization, the Chamber of Commerce, and the University of Michigan.

The Ann Arbor Art Association donated their entire permanent collection of art 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 their purchase of 117 West Liberty.

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.

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

The Print
Exhibition established

First annual WineFest held.

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

ArtMakers was launched.

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

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

Corporate Membership Program initiated, 150 business participants underwrote shows.

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.

Completed restoration on the facade of 117 West Liberty.

  • Art Consulting Services offered to local and regional businesses.

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.

First annual Sommelier Dinner held.

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

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

ArtMakers Teens
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.

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

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

was launched.
Marsha Chamberlin President’s Fund established by the Board of Directors to honor her 20 years of organizational leadership.

The Ann Arbor Art Center celebrates their 100th Anniversary!

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

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

The inaugural outdoor exhibition of contemporary art, POP-X, launched as part of 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.

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