MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - A popular museum may be leaving Overton Park. The board of directors at the Brooks Museum of Art passed a resolution offering the option to relocate, on the heels of their one hundred year anniversary.
At this point museum leaders have not specified what other locations they are considering. But they are focusing on what an art museum in this day and age should look like.
According to a press release, the Brooks will work with partners in Overton Park, the Overton Park Conservancy, and city leaders on this process.
Improvements to their facility have allowed the Brooks to expand exhibits and programming, as seen by their outside projects and free school tours. However, the board says the museum's growth has revealed physical limitations.
Museum leaders are evaluating their options. If they relocate, they say they will work to ensure their current space is used to benefit Overton Park and the community.
Below is the release from the Brooks Museum of Art:
Every great city deserves a great art museum – but like all art museums, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is more than a building. After celebrating 100 years of service to the greater Memphis area, the Brooks is now turning its focus to reimagining exactly what an art museum should be in Memphis in the 21st century—and ensuring that it matters to every Memphian.
As part of that work, the museum’s Board of Directors recently passed a resolution that adds the option of relocation, outside Overton Park, to a list of options for its future facility needs.
“We are the oldest and largest art museum in the state of Tennessee, and our collection continues to grow,” said the museum’s Executive Director Emily Ballew Neff. “However, this growth is revealing some concerning limitations about our current physical plant, which we must address. Visibility and accessibility are important to us, and we also need to think about how we can continue to attract important art collections to the Brooks. We do that by showing that we are a safe, secure, and worthy place to steward those legacies. We are exploring every possible option to achieve that goal.”
The Brooks plans to work closely with its partners in Overton Park, the Overton Park Conservancy, Mayor Jim Strickland, and the Memphis City Council as the decision-making process moves forward.
“The Brooks Museum’s ultimate responsibility is to our collection and the 5,000 years of art that it represents; our supportive members and lovers of art everywhere; and the people of Memphis,” said Board President Deborah Craddock. “If and when we elect to relocate, we will do everything in our power to ensure that our current museum facilities enjoy a productive and positive next use that benefits Overton Park and the entire community.”
The Brooks is the oldest and largest art museum in the state of Tennessee. Every year, it welcomes tens of thousands of patrons from across the country and the world to experience the illuminating and affirming power of art. Recent improvements to the museum facilities have allowed expansion of exhibition opportunities and educational programs in a way that reach more people from more parts of the metropolitan area than ever. This is reflected in such Brooks Outside projects as the RedBall Project, Intrude, the giant, illuminated bunnies that adorned our plaza, and Tape Art; and the free school tours we offer to all Shelby County Schools.
The museum’s collection, which includes works from many continents and more than five millennia, also continues to grow. The Brooks has made commitments over the past few decades to African American artists and artists of the African diaspora. Between 2010 and 2016, 92 percent of the artworks we acquired were by African-American artists and the museum has reinstalled or are in the process of reinstalling its galleries of African Art and the Day Foundation Collection of Antiquities.
“As the Brooks enters its second century of service as the city’s museum, it’s staff looks forward to doing everything it can to be the best possible institution for all Memphians,” says Neff. “The museum’s board and staff are evaluating all viable options about how to make that happen, and we will keep the public apprised of our progress as we continue this important work.”
ABOUT THE MEMPHIS BROOKS MUSEUM OF ART.
Founded in 1916 and located at 1934 Poplar Ave. in historic Overton Park, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is home to Tennessee’s oldest and largest major collection of world art. More than 10,000 works make up the Brooks Museum’s permanent collection, including works from ancient Greece, Rome and the Americas; Renaissance masterpieces from Italy; English portraiture; American painting and decorative arts; contemporary art; and a survey of African art. The Brooks Museum enriches the lives of our diverse community through the museum's expanding collection, varied exhibitions, and dynamic programs that reflect the art of world cultures from antiquity to the present. For more information about the Brooks and all other exhibitions and programs, call 901.544.6200 or visit brooksmuseum.org.