For Students About UMMA

The UMMA Story


The University of Michigan’s art collection is among the oldest in the nation in university hands. In 1856, years before the great civic art museums in Detroit, Toledo, or Chicago were founded, UM students and the general public had free access to an art gallery on campus.

The art collection found a permanent home in Alumni Memorial Hall upon its completion in 1910. Built to serve several purposes—war memorial to the UM students and faculty who served in nineteenth century wars, alumni association headquarters, lecture halls and meeting rooms—the building was also designed to showcase and provide storage for art, thanks in large measure to UM President James Burrill Angell, a tireless advocate for the museum throughout his tenure (1871–1909).

Throughout the twentieth century, the collections grew via gifts and judicious purchases, and at several key junctures, plans were made to find larger quarters In the late 1990s, with room to display only a small fraction of its holdings (and straining to accommodate its increasingly ambitious roster of arts programming) plans to expand and renovate Alumni Memorial Hall began in earnest.

View the UMMA history slideshow. >>