From the Director, Alex W. Barker
I confess to being one of those boring souls with a favorite saying, trotted out at every conceivable opportunity. In my own defense it’s something I think warrants repetition, something that’s too often forgotten or misunderstood. It’s this— museums aren’t just collections of things, they’re also collections of people. As a new year dawns I’m profoundly grateful for the efforts of the Museum’s staff, its dedicated corps of docents and volunteers, and for the enthusiasm and energy of the Museum Associates Board. They share a common love of art and interest in the human career, and an uncommon passion for communicating their love and interest to others.
Looking back we accomplished a great deal in 2011—re-accreditation by the American Association of Museums, selection for a Kress Foundation study of exemplary college art museums, mounting and presentation of a series of exceptional exhibitions on a range of topics, and continued growth during a period when most museums have struggled. The Museum’s efforts to interpret the arts for the people of Missouri were recognized in a special video for the Board of Curators, members of the Museum staff were chosen for high office in museum professional organizations or service on federal committees developing and implementing national cultural policies, and funds were set aside to ensure that each year every member of the Museum staff would have opportunities for further professional development and growth. And we offered a growing array of educational programs, films, and other interpretive offerings for visitors of every age and interest.
No single person achieved all these goals. They represent the combined and continuing efforts of the Museum’s outstanding staff. When you visit the Museum I hope you’re impressed with the quality, variety and depth of its collections—certainly few towns of our size can claim so rich a resource. But I hope you’ll also appreciate the quality and skill of the Museum’s staff. They do much with little, and carry it off with a skill and panache that masks how hard they work to accomplish these things. Appreciate, too, our marvelous docent corps, tireless ambassadors for the Museum and selfless volunteers who give the rarest commodity in today’s world—time—for the benefit of both the Museum and the community we serve. I’m privileged to work with people like that every day, and they’re a constant reminder of why we do what we do. They take pride and ownership in the Museum—it’s theirs.
It’s also yours. The Museum Associates Board has been working on a series of initiatives to broaden membership, improve the way the Museum presents itself to the public, and to increase public awareness of the Museum and the programs it offers. I’m excited by these developments, and by the creative energy within the Board. I’m most excited that these efforts revolve around a central theme—it’s YOUR Museum—capturing another message that can’t be repeated often enough.
New years are time of reflection, but also of resolution. We’re resolved to do even better this year, to build on strengths and at the same time identify and remedy any weaknesses. Over the course of 2012 we’ll offer a series of remarkable exhibitions, starting with Collecting for a New Century, which showcases some of the exquisite objects added to our collection in recent years. But titles aside, we’re not just collecting for a new century. We’re also collecting for you. So I’d like to suggest you add another resolution to your new year’s list. Come to the Museum. Make it YOURS.
And I’ll see you at the Museum.