This is a public thank you to the Indiana legislators who have made it possible for the Fort Wayne Museum of Art to receive a grant through the Indiana Arts Commission, appropriated by the General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts.
In particular, I would like to thank those representing northeast Indiana: Gov. Eric Holcomb, state Sen. Justin Busch, state Rep. Martin Carbaugh, and congressional legislators Jim Banks, Mike Braun and Todd Young.
The Fort Wayne Museum of Art has served northeast Indiana for 98 years. With no other major public art museum closer than 90 miles, FWMoA is the primary regional resource for the visual arts.
We are dedicated to presenting exhibitions and educational programs that have meaning for the many people in our community who may not see themselves as art lovers or museum-goers as well as the people who have a passion for the visual arts.
The Fort Wayne Museum of Art serves more than 100,000 people of all ages and in all stages of life each year. Students, families, young people and the elderly experience 25 exhibitions each year of diverse media and maker.
We part-ner with all school districts in the region to give free art programming to nearly 37,000 students each year as they develop their education.
Special programs such as tours for Spanish and Burmese speakers, tours for those with low or no vision, and tours for individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease bring service to the underserved.
Favorite programs such as Chalk Walk and Dia de los Muertos include thousands of people in exciting cultural experiences.
Public support for the arts aligns with the health and well-being of Hoosiers. According to a 2014 study by the National Endowment for the Arts, older adults who participated in arts programming had higher levels of cognitive functioning and lower rates of physical limitations to daily functioning.
Further, a 2013 study published in Educational Researcher shows that students who visit art museums display greater levels of critical thinking, historical empathy, factual retention and respect for different viewpoints.
Finally, a study published in 2016 points to the arts as a stress reducer for low-income preschoolers of all races.
Scientific studies may help us to see the instrumental purposes of the arts, but personal stories can be much more powerful. I close by sharing a reflection from a local student who visited our early 2020 exhibition “Margaret Burroughs: Faces of My People.”
“The exhibition transported me to a specific time, place and culture. It focused in quite a personal way on [the artist's] way of viewing culture and the world around her. My favorite print was one from Charles White. It depicts an old man full of wisdom and experience who has a lot of valuable advice. I think this piece has a strong message of how valuable elderly people can be to society. I think there is an even stronger message when you factor in the social dynamic in America when this print was made. I think it's safe to say that back then a lot of people didn't listen to African Americans, they didn't see their opinions, thoughts or art to be of much value. Charles White addresses this issue and should not be ignored.”
Thank you again for your public support of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art.
Charles A. Shepard III is president and CEO of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art.