About the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts
The mission statement was adopted by the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts Board of Trustees of February 9, 1995; based on the original written by the Founding Board in 1981.
"The mission of the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts shall be to establish and maintain a museum in order to house and exhibit a permanent collection of art as well as to provide space for traveling exhibitions, for the purpose of the enjoyment and education of the general public in San Angelo, Texas, the rural communities of the Concho Valley, and the state of Texas*."
This statement has been regularly reviewed and serves as the guide for the goals and activities of the museum. It has been analyzed and the following are the key ideas that have been developed:
- "The general public" means all segments of the population including all ages, sexes, races and creeds. It is the museum's intention to welcome and actively encourage attendance and participation by everyone.
- "San Angelo, Texas, and the rural communities of the Concho Valley" is defined as an area of 14 counties which use San Angelo as their marketing and social center. San Angelo has a more rural orientation than any city in West Texas and no other museum in the region has made a significant attempt to work with that audience.
- "A permanent collection" is considered vital. It is recognized that this is a small museum with limited resources. Major historical works are beyond our means. We will acquire contemporary art, ceramics, and the work of Texas artists.
- "Traveling exhibitions" will be used to bring to our audience a diverse view of the visual arts encompassing all periods and cultures.
- "For the purpose of the enjoyment and education of" underscores a commitment to an education program with emphasis on school age children, because the children of the region have little exposure to the visual arts. Programs for adults and special audiences will also be undertaken.
- "Maintain a museum" means a commitiment to meet the highest standards for exhibitions, environmental control, security and support facilities.
*At the Annual Board Retreat, in the Spring of 2014, the Board of Trustees voted to add "and the state of Texas" based upon the fact that the museum collections have a strong and broad representation of Texas art. The museum is now the operational headquarters for a state wide organization, CASETA, the Center for Advancement and Study of Early Texas Art, and that the museum regurarly features the work of earlier and contemporary Texas artists. Also, our library now holds the Bill and Mary Cheek Early Texas Art Archives. We also market extensivly across the state and draw substantial audiences from across Texas.
"To enhance the overall quality of life for all members of our community through art and educational programming."
We have adopted the slogan "We are not just about art on the walls but art in our lives; and the community is the greatest work of art."
The Museum was founded in 1981 and was located in the historic 1868 Quartermaster Building at Fort Concho National Historic Landmark. It opened in 1985 with exhibits from the National Portrait Gallery and the Library of Congress. The Museum has since held over 350 exhibits. Over 150 have featured Texas artists, half of which have been women and 1/3 minority. The overall exhibit program encompasses all mediums, cultures and time periods. Ceramics Monthly has cited the Museums’ biannual National Ceramic Competition as “the premier clay show in America.”
In 1992 and 2005 the Museum received the Citizen of the Year Award from the Chamber of Commerce. In 1995 the Museum was awarded The National Community Service Award from the American Institute of Architects. In 2003 the Museum received the National Award for Museum Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the country’s highest honor for museums and in 2011 we received the Award of Excellence in Museums from the Texas Historical Commission.
The Museum’s audience in West Texas covers 18 counties. The population is 194,000 (15% rural) with San Angelo as the major trade center. San Angelo's population is 89,000 while most of the smaller surrounding towns have populations of 1,000-3,000. The nearest major metropolitan area is San Antonio located 230 miles away. Education programs are done in close collaboration with the local and outlying school districts. Up to 50% of children in the school district come to the Museum annually.
The Museum has an intense interest in the community manifested in exhibits held every five years beginning in 1985, called Visions and Choices. These exhibits allow everyone in the community to show their ideas for the community’s future. Many of the ideas have become tangible and resulted in massive efforts of preservation and renewal.
The Museum has a rapidly growing collection with 800 works of contemporary ceramics. There are also historical ceramic works from Asia and more than 60 contemporary paintings and sculpture by Texas artists. The collection includes over 100 major works of Spanish Colonial and Mexican religious art. The Museum has lent extensively to other museums in Texas.
$8,000,000 was raised for a new building which opened in 1999 that has received international acclaim. The Museum is implementing a new strategic plan, restoring older buildings that it owns for community use and is currently leading the development of a TCA designated 200 acre Cultural District.
When first encountering the Art Museum's new building and its distinctive roof many people comment that it looks like a saddle or a covered wagon. They often believe that the shape of the building is symbolic of our community's frontier heritage. (This is not a covered wagon! Drawing by Emanuel Davis)
Our building inspires people's imagination and, even though it was never intended to be a metaphor for anything else, we are delighted that it has this effect. The Museum employed the internationally known architectural firm of Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates of New York and Los Angeles, but most of the design elements were the result of local ideas and input. In designing the roof the architects suggested a shape that followed the slope of the land and helped create a very hicenter point so that the roof would be visible and project above the surrounding streets. The original design presented by the architects looked much as it does now except the building had a peaked roof. The vaulted arch shape was suggested by the local design committee. When the architects were interviewed one of the outstanding aspects of their presentation was the emphasis they placed on the idea that "together we will make a building!" They were true to their word, and with their keen design sensibility and local ideas we have an utterly unique building.
"Together we will Make a Building"
Are you curious about this unique building? Explore the story of the creation of the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts' Building. Meet the architect, museum director and construction supervisor and learn why this building was truly a collaboration in design.
The Building and its Design
A large part of our building is constructed of materials from our region. For example, the exterior walls are built of massive blocks of limestone from Texastone, a quarry in nearby Garden City. The floors in the public areas are made of blocks of endgrain Texas mesquite. Native Texas red clay blocks from D'Hanis are used for the distinctive elevator tower.
The Museum's original building was located in the former Quartermaster's Building at Fort Concho National Historic Landmark. It maintained the historic character of the original building on the exterior but was beautifully adapted inside for modern museum use by the noted Dallas architect Bud Ogelsby, a native of San Angelo (pictured right.) Many of the features of our original building at Fort Concho found their way into the design of our new building; for example, the high ceilings with exposed wood planking, molded wood beams and tie rods can be seen in our new structure. There was a mezzanine area in the former building where visitors could look down into the main gallery and there is a similar feature at our new building. Our building is constructed in the shape of a long narrow rectangle, which parallels the shape of our former building and others at Fort Concho and the nearby Historic Santa Fe Orient Depot and Freight Terminal. This shape also reinforces the adjacent pedestrian walkway and the Paseo de Santa Angela.
Beyond these noticeable physical aspects of the Museum's new building are subtler but profoundly important design elements. We have endeavored to create one of the most welcoming, friendly and community-centered museum buildings in the nation. In most museums the offices are difficult to locate. Our offices are at the entrance and open to the public. Our collection storage areas are a combination of areas open to visitors to walk in and look. One area, however (for critical security reasons), is only lit and visible. If a visitor requests to enter this visible area we will grant that request if a staff person is available to do so. We also allow visitors to enter our exhibition and collections processing area when staff is on duty. This is unprecedented but does not compromise the important safety and security concerns that all museums must adhere to. We carefully protect the items in our trust but also provide the visitor with a much better understanding of how the museum functions.
Among the design criteria we presented to the architects was the idea that our building should look like San Angelo. Through its shape and use of materials we believe that goal has been accomplished. In the evolution of the design we came up with a way for the building also to give visitors a way to look at San Angelo. We have a four thousand square foot, open air rooftop deck that offers a dramatic and beautiful view of the nearby Paseo, River Stage, Concho River and the Downtown San Angelo skyline. This deck is heavily reinforced and can hold the weight of the largest works of sculpture. Visitors and passersby are sometimes startled to see a giant crane hoisting a massive bronze or stone sculpture onto the roof for changing sculpture exhibits. The deck has become a favorite location for parties and military re-enlistment ceremonies. View of the Paseo de Santa Angelo from Museum Rooftop.
Our building has a large multi-purpose meeting room and adjacent professional kitchen. This combination of facilities not only gives us the opportunity to present a vast range of programs-- from concerts and lectures to a televised cooking show--but also has become a major center of community life. Everything from P.T.A. and City Council meetings to weddings and proms take place here.
A third major element of the building is the education wing. We devote far more space to this purpose than most museums as a percentage of the total building. We are delighted to have a collaborative relationship with Angelo State University which operates a state-of-the-art ceramics studio with large outdoor kilns adjacent to the classrooms. The University offers a wide range of undergraduate and adult continuing education courses in the ceramics studio and in all the other Museum facilities. As a part of this relationship the University also collaborates with the Museum with certain exhibitions and programs such as the Chamber Music Series and National Ceramic Competition.
The museum also owns the buildings on Oakes Street that are directly in front of SAMFA. We now have the Coop Gallery and Gallery Verde. The Coop Gallery is available for rent. For more information click here. Gallery Verde currently is being used for museum events and programming.
The Impact of the Museum
In placing the Museum at its present location the Museum's Board of Trustees made a bold move. It is located in an area that was run down and that had suffered from economic decline. It was also an area where the RU/DAT process and the city government had determined to make an effort to both beautify and stimulate revival. The Museum itself had begun and led the discussions towards this process. It seemed appropriate to build at this location. To date, the more than $8 million the Museum has spent at the site is the largest single investment in the area. All around the Museum there is now clear evidence of a dramatic revival taking place. The Museum has brought life and activity to the area nearly every day of the year.
Shortly after the completion of the new building, which opened to the public in September, 1999, the employees of the Area-Wide phone book voted to place a photograph of the building on that year's cover. This was the beginning of continuing recognition in articles and publications around the world. The following quote from an article published in "Voices of Art" magazine written by Architectural Critic Jon Thompson sums up the general observations of the many articles that have been written.
…"A museum is not simply a repository for art. It is an expression of the people who built it, whether they be the nobility of Florence or the civic-minded of San Angelo.…This is why the San Angelo Museum is so important, and why it is such a wonderful piece of architecture. It has meaning, and the meaning was derived from the collaboration of a wise and enthusiastic architect and a group of enlightened citizen clients. The meaning that they brought to the design is evident in the whole and in each of the parts. That meaning is local. It comes from the particulars of the place and from the shared vision of the people. This brave and very personal design is proof that a "sense of place," so valued by architects, is a dynamic, organic process, ever-changing, always growing, not a static picturesque post card. "
Architectural Record Article
Designing the World's Best Museums and Art Galleries 2003 Article
Texas Co-op Power 2005 Article
HHPA Hardy Holzman Pfiffer Associates - 1999 Article
Voices of Art Magazine Volume 11 Issue 3 (2003)
The San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts is classified as a 501(c)(3) organization. Click below to view our most recent IRS Form 990.