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Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts celebrates inaugural year following grand reopening

AMFA celebrates inaugural year following its grand reopening
Nathan Treece
Little Rock Public Radio
AMFA celebrates inaugural year following its grand reopening

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr., foundation directors, and special guests attended the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts' (AMFA) annual meeting this afternoon at the downtown Little Rock museum.

The lunch marked the first meeting since AMFA opened the doors to its $142 million renovation in April of 2023, which the museum called a "Milestone Year."

While the fiscal year for the museum begins on January 1, the annual meeting focused on numbers for the inaugural year of operation following the renovation.

Executive Director Victoria Ramirez called the event a personal favorite, allowing her to reflect on the previous year and to build excitement for what's to come. She then dove into the numbers.

"I think we all can agree, the first year of the opening of the museum was a smashing success," said Ramirez. "How does a museum measure success? One measurement, of course, is looking at attendance, and I am so pleased to say that we achieved the highest attendance on record this past year."

AMFA reported that over 155,000 guests visited the museum in its first year, with visitors from 18 countries. Ramirez said the museum also achieved its highest number of donors and members on record.

The museum also boasted its highest revenue year on record along with a balanced budget, with just over $11 million in revenue and roughly $800 in surplus after its expenses.

In addition to the year in review, Ramirez announced a major exhibition coming to AMFA in 2025.

"In 1955, this painting, Diego Rivera's 'Dos Mujeres' was donated to the museum," she began. "'Dos Mujeres' was created during the ten years the artist spent in Paris. During this time, Rivera became Rivera... An exhibition that examines this transformative time in Rivera's life has never been done, until now. I'm pleased to announce in February 2025, the blockbuster exhibition, 'Rivera's Paris' will open here at AMFA."

"Rivera's Paris" will open on Feb. 7, 2025, and run until May 18.

Ramirez also announced the return of the museum's black-tie fundraiser, Tabriz, on April 5, with Mary Olive and John Stephens as co-chairs.

After announcing the staff for the upcoming year, foundation director Harriet Stephens revealed that the "Reimagining the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts" Capital Campaign had raised over $176 million for the museum's renovation efforts. The capital campaign ended in December of last year.

Before the closing of the meeting, Ramirez announced the 2024 Winthrop Rockefeller Memorial Award, which is presented to those who serve and support the AMFA beyond the normal call of duty.

The recipient of the 2024 Winthrop Rockefeller Memorial Award was Chairman of the AMFA 2023-24 Board of Trustees Van Tilbury.

Nathan Treece is a reporter and local host of NPR's Morning Edition for Little Rock Public Radio.