After five years, all of the permanent collection of the Albany Museum of Art is back home. Its return is being celebrated with Homecoming, a special three-month exhibition in which every gallery of the AMA will feature works from the museum’s treasures.
The exhibition opened with a special evening reception for AMA members on Thursday, May 12. Homecoming opened to the public on Friday, May 13. The AMA is open 10 am-5 pm Tuesdays-Saturdays, and admission is free for everyone.
“This exhibition will highlight in dazzlingly original fashion the broadest array of our permanent collection,” Albany Museum of Art Executive Director Andrew J. Wulf, Ph.D., said.
The AMA’s permanent collection and touring exhibitions had to be rescued when a powerful storm packing rain and 90-mph straight-line winds devastated Albany and Southwest Georgia on Jan 2, 2017. The storm tore open the museum roof, and the next day AMA staff, Board members, volunteers, and conservators worked tirelessly to rescue the artworks, both those owned by the AMA and those that were on loan for the current exhibitions. Art objects that did not need restoration were taken to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. Those art objects that needed restoration were taken to the Conservation Center in Chicago. As devastating as the damage to the building was, museum officials proudly note that no art object was destroyed.
The AMA closed for nearly nine months, reopening three downstairs galleries, the classroom, AMAzing Space, and the Willson Auditorium in late August 2017, when it resumed hosting traveling exhibitions, and offering art camps, programming, and event space at the museum.
More unprecedented circumstances arrived in March 2020 when the COVID pandemic forced a three-month closure less than six months after Wulf joined the AMA as executive director. During that temporary shutdown, officials renovated the upstairs vaults, offices, and AMAzing Space area. In late 2020, the AMA acquired about 250 works from Atlanta artist, writer, cartoonist, and musician Tom Ferguson, and Escape Plan, a fanciful installation by Athens artist and musician Elinor Saragoussi in the West Gallery that leads to AMAzing Space.
The undamaged artworks generously kept by the High Museum returned in October 2020. The remaining art objects in the permanent collection, which had been painstakingly repaired, restored, and inventoried by the Conservation Center, returned in April 2022.
The task of deciding which pieces to display and where to place them was undertaken by AMA Director of Curatorial Affairs Katie Dillard, who returned to the AMA in August 2021. She was serving in a similar capacity at the museum when the storm hit in 2017 and was deeply involved in the rescue of the artworks.
“The opportunity to have the museum’s permanent collection completely take over all the galleries is one that is few and far in between, and museum staff wanted to share with our stakeholders, members, and visitors near and far, the joy that we have and the pride that we take in our collection, which in many ways, is a reflection of our community and our history,” Dillard observed. “Guests will be able to view the entire journey this museum has taken throughout the years through the eyes of the collection, beginning in the late 1960s through to the 2020s. This exhibition is significant for our growth and our ability to move ever forward.”