The AMA has its roots in an earlier organization, the Southwest Georgia Art Association, which was formed in the early 1960s and obtained nonprofit status in 1964. This organization, using an all volunteer staff created the forerunner to the current museum in an old hosiery mill. Its early efforts brought in exhibitions, lectures, and art instruction. Before the decade ended, the Association received a sizeable donation from businessman W. Banks Haley, Jr. and constructed a gallery in a small city park. During these early days, the gallery housed no permanent exhibits, instead relying on loans and traveling exhibitions from a number of sources including collections and/or faculty of area universities; SITES (Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service); corporate collections including those of IBM, Coca-Cola, and Gulf States Paper Company. Programs held in the facility included art instruction for the young and old, film and lecture series, chamber music, and dinner theatre. In 1975, the museum hired its first paid staff members.
In 1980, the Association officially changed its name to Albany Museum of Art and began a capital funds drive for a new building. By 1983, the new facility opened with an exhibition of American Impressionism from the Phillips Collection. It also began to acquire its own permanent collection of traditional African art.
Today, the AMA hosts more than twenty art exhibitions annually. Their Mission Statement reads:
"The mission of the Albany Museum of Art is to collect, preserve and exhibit works of art and to conduct educational programming designed for a variety of audiences within our community and region. Believing that art is vital to the human experience, the museum will strive to cultivate and stimulate curiosity and passion for art in its many forms."
The Albany Museum of Art's African collection includes masks, sculpture, pottery, baskets, textiles, jewelry and gold weights. They also have a growing collection of 19th and 20th century American and European paintings, drawings, sculptures, watercolors, prints, and photographs; including works from Edward Henry Potthast, Joseph H. Sharp, Ernest Lawson, Reginald Marsh and A.L. Ripley.
The Galleries of the AMA include:
- The Banks Haley Gallery: Traveling exhibitions
- The Miller Gallery: Art and artifacts from the AMA’s Sub-Saharan African collection
- The Raymond F. Evans Sporting Art Gallery: Wildlife and sporting art
- The Ralph Hodges Gallery: Works by regional artists
- The McCormack Gallery: Exhibitions from the AMA Permanent Collection, collections on loan
- The East Gallery: Works by regional artists, works from the AMA Permanent Collection.
- The AMAzing Spaces Gallery: Interactive learning through hands-on experiences for children. It features masks, musical instruments, a library of children’s art books, and the “Recollections Room” in which visitors can make colorful works of art just by moving through the space.
- The Learning Curve Education Gallery: Exhibitions of artworks by local school children as well as children, teens, and adults enrolled in art classes offered through the AMA’s ARTScool Program.
Albany Museum of Art
311 Meadowlark Dr.
Telephone: (229) 439-8400