The University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) holds collections representing 150 years of art collecting, while its dynamic schedule of special exhibitions and interpretative programs connects visitors with the rich artistic legacy of the past and today's avant-garde. In 2009, UMMA underwent a major restoration of its historic Beaux-Arts home, the Alumni Memorial Hall and opened a landmark addition, named the Maxine and Stuart Frankel and the Frankel Family Wing after its lead benefactors. Thanks to this major transformation, UMMA not only more than doubled the space available for collections display, temporary exhibitions, programs, and educational exploration, but also fulfilled the Museum’s mission to bridge visual art and contemporary culture, scholarship and accessibility, tradition and innovation.


  • Outside the Alumni Memorial Hall, the original home to UMMA, with its new modern addition in the background
    Outside the Alumni Memorial Hall, the original home to UMMA, with its new modern addition in the background
  • The original home of UMMA, the Alumni Memorial Hall is to the right while the new, modern facility addition is to the left
    The original home of UMMA, the Alumni Memorial Hall is to the right while the new, modern facility addition is to the left
  • The painted steel sculpture "Orion" stands on the front lawn of UMMA
    The painted steel sculpture "Orion" stands on the front lawn of UMMA
  • The Beaux-Arts style Alumni Memorial Hall, not long after it was completed in 1910
    The Beaux-Arts style Alumni Memorial Hall, not long after it was completed in 1910
  • Inside the UMMA gallery space long ago
    Inside the UMMA gallery space long ago
  • Collections storage in 1966 at UMMA as preparations are made for moving some works of art
    Collections storage in 1966 at UMMA as preparations are made for moving some works of art
  • The atrium in the hall holds performing arts events
    The atrium in the hall holds performing arts events
  • View of the "Vertical Gallery" in the new Frankel wing
    View of the "Vertical Gallery" in the new Frankel wing
  • Inside the new Frankel wing
    Inside the new Frankel wing
  • Open storage cases with a study table
    Open storage cases with a study table
  • UMMA has a significant collection of African art, especially from the Congo/Zaire
    UMMA has a significant collection of African art, especially from the Congo/Zaire
  • Arial view of the museum
    Arial view of the museum

Since the mid-1850s, the University of Michigan has had a displayed collection of fine art. The University of Michigan Museum of Art is one of the oldest university art museums in the country. In 1884, the museum’s collection was greatly expanded by a donation from Henry Clay Lewis of over 400 paintings and dozens of sculptures. The museum gained a permanent home when the Alumni Memorial Hall was completed in 1910. Originally, the building, with its Beaux Arts façade, served as a war memorial to UM alumni and held the offices of the Alumni Association. The first exhibit in the new building was a collection of Asian and American art from Detroit native Charles Lang Freer, who also founded the Freer Gallery of Art at the Smithsonian. By 1966, the Alumni Memorial Hall was used for the sole purpose of displaying and storing UMMA’s collections. In 2009, the Maxine and Stuart Frankel and Frankel Family wings were added to the building. The additions created 53,000 more square feet of space, more than doubling the museum’s previous square footage and allowing for more than three times the artwork previously on display. Architect Brad Cloepfil of the Allied Works Architecture firm designed the renovation and earned a prestigious American Institute of Architects (AIA) award for it. It cost almost $48 million to construct the new building which also includes an auditorium, classrooms, a café, and a gift shop. Natural light is utilized as much as possible throughout the building, without sacrificing the care of the collection. In its first year since reopening after renovation, the museum received over 250,000 visitors.1

UMMA has about 19,000 objects in its collection, with an especially strong collection of Asian and Central African art. The Asian art collection is made up of over 4,500 items, making it the largest in the state of Michigan. The majority of the collection consists of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean paintings and ceramics although other cultures and artistic mediums are also well represented. The African art collection includes personal adornment, masks, sculpture, textiles, ceramics, and even architectural elements. American and European classical and contemporary art by Picasso, Monet, and Whistler are some of the UMMA’s most famous pieces.2 About 20 exhibits on contemporary art and from other institutions rotate throughout the year. Throughout the museum, there are opportunities for visitors to view into the collection storage facilities, with glass-fronted “open storage galleries.” The art continues outside with sculptures placed around the perimeter of the museum, including the painted steel “Orion” display on the front lawn. 3

UMMA offers guided and self-guided tours, particularly for students and teachers. In addition, themed guided tours are regularly scheduled for the public. The new building provides classrooms for professors to request up-close object study visits, and museum staff can assist in research at the Marvin and Phyllis Dolinko Curatorial Research Center.4 Programs and events that are regularly offered include art lectures, “Nights at the Museum” and “After Hours” evening programs, and music, dance, and poetry reading performances. Family-friendly activities are also a regular occurrence, with movie nights, story-time readings, and art studio workshops. 5



1. "The UMMA Story." University of Michigan Museum of Art Official Website. Accessed August 24, 2016. http://www.umma.umich.edu/about-umma/ 2. "Collections." University of Michigan Museum of Art Official Website. Accessed August 24, 2016. http://www.umma.umich.edu/collections/ 3. "On View." University of Michigan Museum of Art Official Website. Accessed August 24, 2016. http://www.umma.umich.edu/view/ 4. "Education." University of Michigan Museum of Art Official Website. Accessed August 24, 2016. http://www.umma.umich.edu/education/ 5. "Programs & Tours." University of Michigan Museum of Art Official Website. Accessed August 24, 2016. http://www.umma.museum/programs-and-tours/events/