Thursday, January 05, 2017

The Art of Giving – Commit to Georgia

The University of Georgia launched its billion-dollar capital campaign, Commit to Georgia, on November 10, and as part of the campaign, the museum is tasked with raising more than $20 million over the next few years. The campaign has three priorities that shape its focus: increasing access for students from Georgia and beyond, enhancing the student experience and solving world problems through research and service. So how does the Georgia Museum of Art fit into all of that?

Heather Malcom (right), with Cyndy Harbold, president of the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art
First and foremost, the museum is committed to its role within the University of Georgia. Our mission includes the same three pillars as that of the university: teaching, research and service. Our public service is the easiest aspect to see. We serve tens of thousands of visitors a year and bring free visual arts education across the state to communities that need it.

We educate at the same time. We lead gallery tours. We provide a hands-on teaching venue for university students in all disciplines. We supply K–12 teachers with materials that meet state standards at no cost. And we produce the next generation of museum professionals through experiential learning. Finally, we are committed to research. Our curators are faculty members, and every exhibition we organize begins with hours in the library. We’re rewriting art history every day, documenting Georgia’s history and making connections among disciplines.

Though we rely on private gifts for all our programming, numbers aren’t the whole story. When Larry and Brenda Thompson gave us 100 works by African American artists and endowed a curatorial position to focus on that understudied area of art history, their gift served the same three priorities as the campaign. Increasing access isn’t just about scholarships. It’s about making students from a wide variety of backgrounds feel like they belong and providing them with an unparalleled experience while they’re here. The Thompsons’ gift, now reflected in our reinstalled galleries, pushed us toward greater inclusiveness.

That spirit of inclusiveness has also enhanced the student experience, providing models for students of diverse backgrounds to see themselves represented in art. And by validating the importance of all creators, the Thompsons’ gift brings us together as humans, uniting us instead of dividing us. That kind of commitment to the differences that art can make in the lives of individuals is exactly what we’ll be asking of you in the coming years. Together, we can change lives through art.

Heather Malcom
Director of Development

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