©Kevin Barre Photography
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
Arts management expert Michael M. Kaiser had some nice things to say about a Memphis institution. In his online article, “Museums Large and Small,” Kaiser, a past president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and current chairman for the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland, balanced the international coverage of the new Whitney Museum in New York with a reminder that great museums aren’t exclusive to America’s largest cities. Kaiser, widely recognized for his work with groups like Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, American Ballet Theatre, and the Royal Opera House, went on to praise Memphis’ Brooks Museum of Art as an example of how smaller, regional museums can “play equally important roles in the lives of their constituents.”
Kaiser’s not entirely unbiased, of course. He’s been getting to know Memphis and the Brooks while consulting on a new strategic plan for the museum. His love letter to “the City of Elvis” was published only a few weeks before the Brooks’ 99th birthday and big news from the museum’s new executive director, Emily Ballew Neff.
On May 26th, as the Brooks officially started the clock on its 100th year, the museum announced a $1 million challenge grant, courtesy of the Hyde Family Foundation. The grant, which requires a $500,000 match, will support a plan — co-developed with Kaiser — that will enable the museum to begin its second century by completely rethinking the ways it plans, exhibits, and presents art.
The Brooks’ new plan concentrates on a range of strategies regarding everything from fundraising and marketing to strengthening the museum’s board of trustees. There are also strategies for expanding the museum’s education and community interactions and for “animating” the museum’s interior and making the exterior more inviting with vibrant, frequently changing art installations.
The Brooks begins its centennial celebration May 26, 2016.