Hickory Museum of Art likes to party! Throughout every year we find reasons big and small to have a party, starting with exhibit openings and including events such as the Guild festivities, Autolawn, and the annual student art shows. And what better reason to celebrate than another HMA anniversary? In 2014 we celebrated our 70th anniversary, and now we are approaching the 75th with even bigger plans. We rock!
"From the very beginning, the Unifour Region [Alexander, Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties, the last being home to Hickory] has been a community of creative minds: entrepreneurs, innovators, and risk-takers. Those creative minds built furniture better than the world had ever seen. They made wagons that were sent worldwide and protected our military. They took revolutionary approaches to fighting the polio epidemic. They formed a community of people willing to dig in their heels and fight for one another. Those minds knew that survival depended on a network and collaboration - more than one plumber, woodworker, and doctor, and also more than one painter, photographer and writer. Simply put, the arts were viewed as essential to the strength of the community. Though its forms have varied drastically, art has helped the creative minds of the Unifour Region build a community that has risen to every challenge it has faced." (From HMA’s 2018-2021 Strategic Plan.)
The Hickory Museum of Art opened in 1944 as you know, in a then relatively small (about 15,000 inhabitants) and relatively isolated Western North Carolina town caught up in both World War II and a major polio epidemic.The Museum celebrated the 70th anniversary of that ambitiously visionary accomplishment with a series of exhibitions and programs throughout 2014, focusing on the local community’s memories and artifacts along with selections from the Museum’s collection of (then) almost 2,000 pieces of American art.
The over-arching goal of HMA’s year of celebrating its 70th anniversary was to make the surrounding community more aware and proud of the fact that Hickory Museum of Art was still an energetic and innovative part of the community it continues to serve. The culminating exhibition of the year was the multi-part 1944: A War, The People, A New Museum. The photo collage above by Paul van Breemen is of guests dressed up for the opening of that exhibit.
In putting the 70th anniversary year together, we saw it then as an opportunity to combine the Museum’s strategic goal of increased community engagement and the celebration of the birth of this important cultural organization. We found many ways to connect and partner with local businesses, organizations and individuals as we shared a variety of common histories through the visual arts and artists represented in our collection, as well as those whose art was featured in the first year of HMA’s exhibitions.
We are approaching the 75th anniversary celebration in much the same spirit, while at the same time keeping our eyes firmly on the future..
This post is #2 of the 75 stories to celebrate HMA's 75 years.
Post by Karin Borei, HMA Project Coordinator, writer and editor as needed, and HMA blogger since our blog's inception in March 2015.