Summer 2014 Director’s Message

By Mark Masuoka, Executive Director and CEO

As a young art student, I was told by my instructor that to be creative is to see something in a whole new way to change how you perceive the things around you.

For 92 years, the Akron Art Museum has been changing the cultural landscape by enriching lives through modern and contemporary art. The museum’s commitment to changing perceptions is steadfast in the belief that everyone deserves an exceptional art experience. We activate our vision through the museum’s world-class collection, contemporary exhibitions, innovative education programs and our internationally acclaimed John S. and James L. Knight Building.

On July 15, 2014, I will be celebrating my one-year anniversary as the 14th director of the Akron Art Museum. I’m proud to say that the museum has made great strides over the past year in integrating its operations and programs as well as launching a new website and reopening our café. While the museum continues to be recognized regionally and nationally as a valuable cultural asset, it has also become one of the institutional pillars for the revitalization of downtown Akron. By embracing our responsibility to be a community resource and actively seeking strategic partnerships with other organizations, businesses and individuals, we enhance the cultural health and wellness of our community.

We believe that “community engagement” means to take action

In order for the museum to broaden its public presence, we are dramatically increasing the level of accessibility to art, in and outside the museum. We believe that “community engagement” means to take action and we aim to provide consistent opportunities for members and visitors to LIVE creatively, LEARN how art impacts our lives every day and share the LOVE of art with everyone. During our Free Thursdays, the museum’s education team offers family and kids programs such as Creative Playdates, Story Time in the Galleries, Kids Studio Classes, as well as films, lectures and our collection gallery tours, which provide insightful, inspirational and interactive experiences.

Moving beyond just pressing the ‘Like’ button

Starting this spring, the museum launched a series of Community Conversations to engage thinkers and doers by moving beyond just pressing the ‘Like’ button and directly participating in the collective power of collaboration. Future conversation topics include Art & Entrepreneurship on July 15, discovering what is Uniquely Akron on September 9 and exploring what it means to develop a Public Place | Public Space on November 11. We are grateful for the support of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to make these conversations possible.

In addition to our public forums, we are also launching Make Your Mark, a community-inspired public art project in collaboration with the John S. Knight Center, Akron-Summit County Public Library, Downtown Akron Partnership and Summit Artspace. We teamed up with our neighborhood partners to create a new urban mural for downtown Akron and are working with local painter and tattoo artist Jesse Strother to incorporate drawings and ideas from community participants into a large-scale urban artwork inside of the Knight Center. Join us for the public unveiling on July 5 at 7:30 pm during the Downtown Akron Artwalk.

The Akron Art Museum is imprinting new cultural habits by developing a museum model for civic engagement, community development and sustainability. With your support we can develop new perceptions into a plan for the future.