The Fort Wayne Museum of Art will collect, preserve and present American and related art to engage and educate broad and diverse audiences throughout the region to add value to their lives.
Believing that art is a meaningful part of our lives, we value:
To be the best nationally accredited Art Museum of our size, while serving the broadest array of constituencies in our region.
We are committed to providing people throughout the community and the region with exhibitions of the highest caliber, meaningful and engaging community events, and on- and off-site educational programs that increase people's understanding and appreciation of America's visual arts.
At FWMoA, you will find exhibitions of American fine and decorative art from the nineteenth century to the present, including exhibitions exploring the cross-cultural connections between artwork and artists from diverse ethnic and national backgrounds.
You also will find a hands-on learning environment for young children in the Early Learning Center and a Print and Drawing Study Center available for first-hand study of our vast collection of works on paper. Additionally, the Paradigm Gallery shop features the art and fine craft of over 75 regional and national artists working in a variety of media.
Fort Wayne Museum of Art is funded in part by Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne. Program activities are supported in part by the Indiana Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Fort Wayne Museum of Art is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. We are proud residents of Arts Campus Fort Wayne, a downtown hub for arts and culture.
In 2019, FWMoA received major support from the English, Bonter, Mitchell Foundation, the Foellinger Foundation, Lincoln Financial Foundation, Steel Dynamics Foundation, and Wells Fargo Foundation through grants that increase our service to the community and develop organizational effectiveness.
The visual arts represent myriad aspects of our collective cultures, historical experiences, and of the human condition. We believe that the visual arts open our eyes, hearts, and minds to the intersecting dimensions of the worlds we live in and, in doing so, add value and meaning to our lives. This added value and meaning develops from the broadening of personal perspectives, promoting increased empathy, sparking moments of self-discovery, fostering the development of new insights, as well as nurturing our human spirit.
The Museum is committed to using art in service to the people of the community – fulfilling needs, provoking inspirations, raising aspirations, increasing understanding and, in doing so, adding value to people's lives.
At the heart of these efforts is our earnest belief that art, of whatever style or time period, speaks to our culture, our history, and our future. Moreover, art carries universal messages that have meaning for people and that can help bond people together. Well beyond its ability to appeal to people's aesthetic sensibilities, art can help people communicate, art can encourage people's willingness to empathize and be open to difference, and art stimulates a "craving to comprehend" which is the real motivating force of all learning – for people of all ages and walks of life.
The earliest roots of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art were informal art classes in drawing and painting, which were first taught in 1888 by J. Ottis Adams and later by William Forsyth. Both artists became important regional influences, whose skills in drawing and composition had been sharpened by tutelage at the Royal Academy in Munich. By 1897 these art classes were formally organized under the official name, The Fort Wayne Art School. Over the next twenty years the Art School continued to thrive despite limited funds and several changes in location.
In 1921, the function of museum was added to the school when a collection of ten paintings was donated by Theodore Thieme. A prominent Fort Wayne citizen, Thieme recognized the importance of art to the community, and, in addition to the paintings, he donated his residence at 1026 West Berry Street. In 1949, the B. Paul Mossman home at 1202 West Wayne Street was donated to the museum and, for the first time, an entire facility could be devoted completely to exhibitions and collections.
The museum split with the art school in 1977, in which the school became a department of Indiana University Purdue University at Fort Wayne, now Purdue Fort Wayne. The museum is now housed in a 1984 facility designed by architect Walter Netsch of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
FWMoA was first awarded accreditation by the American Association of Museums in 1996 and was accredited again in 2007. That same year, FWMoA launched a $7.5 million capital campaign to expand the building and grow the permanent collection. Completed in 2010, the project was and continues to prove its success, as FWMoA was transformed by adding 10,000 square feet to increase the number of exhibitions, programs, and visitors to the Museum. The Museum is now able to implement its vision to be the cultural catalyst of the region.
The Thieme Award, named for the first patron of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, was established more than decade ago to honor individuals whose good work in the community has directly or indirectly contributed to this museum's ability to be a vital part of Fort Wayne's cultural community.
Theodore Thieme, an astute businessman and
founder of the highly successful Wayne Knitting Mills, was the first person
outside the art community to see value in what the fledgling museum could do
for the community. That said, Thieme felt strongly that early founders needed more discipline and professionalism if they were to be taken seriously on a bigger stage. Thieme thus proposed that he would give a very significant gift to officially
launch a professional art museum in Fort Wayne, if those involved would pledge to adopt and adhere to professional
standards going forward.
For this reason, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art has recognized individuals since its founding in 1921 for their excellent work that raised the bar for the early museum and school, building a foundation for the nationally-accredited museum that it is today. Those individuals include:
Betty Fishman (the first recipient)
Noel Dusendschon (5 awards)
James Bashir A. Khan