Historical Facts About the Museum

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The Asheville Art Museum is the third oldest art museum in North Carolina and — uniquely and befitting the region’s heritage — was started by artists. Here are some facts from the Museum’s vibrant past:

  • The Asheville Artist Guild, founded in 1935 with funding from the WPA Federal Artists project, initially sponsored the Asheville Art Museum, which was incorporated December 4, 1948 and opened to the public December 26, 1948.
  • The first Museum was located at 324 Charlotte Street in the former sales office of Dr. E.W Grove. The building was designed by Richard Sharp Smith and provided to the Museum by the City of Asheville. In 1958 the Asheville Artist Guild merged into the Asheville Art Museum.
  • The Museum’s first professional Director, James Neuman, was hired in 1965 when the Museum moved into the then new North West Bank building at One West Pack Square.
  • In 1968 the Museum volunteer group the Muses had 137 members and the Museum celebrated the third anniversary of the Junior League/Museum art education program.
  • In 1970 the Museum opened in the Gay Green House in Montford.
  • In 1974 the Museum Docent program was inaugurated.
  • In 1976 the Museum sold the Gay Green House and relocated to the Civic Center.
  • In 1992 the Museum moved as a founding partner in Pack Place to 2 South Pack Sq.
  • Pamela L. Myers became the Museum’s Executive Director in December 1995.
  • The Asheville Art Museum began collecting art in 1965. The Museum collects American Art in all media beginning in the late 19th century and continuing to the present. Uniquely, the Museum’s Collection is rooted in the cultural and artistic heritage of Western North Carolina. Regional focal areas include: Black Mountain College, historical and contemporary art of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, historical and contemporary studio craft and historical and contemporary artists connected to the area.
  • The Museum’s Collection, held in the public trust, in 2015 contains over 3,853 works. Additionally the Museum holds close to 5,000 architectural drawings documenting the built environment of Asheville. The Collection has grown over 525% since 1985.
  • The Museum is a 501(c) 3 educational organization. The Museum hosts researchers, scholars, curators and students for in-depth collections-based research and study, and participates with national and international organizations for loans of objects.
  • In the past 15 years over 2 million people participated in Museum visual arts-based programs. In 2015 over 115,000 individuals and 20,500 children and their teachers participated in programs to spark creative thinking and expression.
  • The Museum’s Achilles Fine Art Library contains over 10,000 resources.
  • In 2005 the Museum inaugurated the Art WORKS for Asheville campaign for the New Museum.
  • In 2005-2009 Ennead Architects designed the New Asheville Art Museum with state-of-the-art galleries and educational, collections and visitor services facilities within a 21st-century, transparent and welcoming new entrance and atrium.
  • In 2014-2015 first steps of construction of the New Asheville Art Museum were initiated. Asheville firm ARCA Design and its consultant team leads the construction and implementation of the New Museum.
  • In 2016, completion of a historic restoration and renovation of the 1926 Pack Memorial Library Building (the Museum’s North Wing)
  • In late 2016, the building at 2 S. Pack Square closes for major construction to create the New Asheville Art Museum, scheduled to open in 2018.
  • In early 2017, the Museum’s temporary location Asheville Art Museum On the Slope opens at 175 Biltmore Avenue, housing a gift shop, education studio, a small gallery and staff office space.
  • In the summer of 2017, demolition work on the Museum’s “core” and East Wing was completed.