The Huntsville Museum of Art (HMA), located in downtown Huntsville, Madison County, focuses primarily on art by southern artists and works that relate to the region. It currently owns a permanent collection of more than 2,500 pieces that forms the basis of several yearly exhibitions. Typically, the museum sees an average of 80,000 visitors per year.
The museum was founded on August 13, 1970, by a city ordinance that established the Museum Board of the City of Huntsville. Initially housed in a local municipal building, HMA later moved temporarily to the campus of the University of Alabama in Huntsville. By March 1975, HMA moved into its first permanent facility in a 17,000-square-foot wing of the Von Braun Civic Center. Accreditation by the American Association of Museums followed in 1980, and the museum proceeded to expand its collection. The space proved inadequate for the growing collection and, with funds from the city and private donations, the museum opened in a new $7.4 million, 46,000-square-foot building in March 1998 in Huntsville's Big Spring International Park.
The museum's core focus is American art, with its permanent collection emphasizing southern art. Representative pieces include works by Kentucky artist Gaela Erwin and Alabama artist and photographer William Christenberry. Other holdings focus on the region, with several relating to Huntsville's connection to the space program, such as Andy Warhol's Moonwalk. In addition to exhibitions arranged from its collection, HMA supports several traveling exhibitions throughout the year. These exhibitions have ranged from catalogues of a single artist such as Maxfield Parrish: The Master of Make Believe to comprehensive exhibits spanning diverse media such as NASA|ART: 50 Years of Exploration.
In 2006, the museum opened an addition, Plaza in the Park, which provides space for Museum Academy classrooms, dining facilities, and the Children's Community Gallery. A notable recent acquisition is The Sellars Collection: Art by American Women, a collection of more than 400 paintings, drawings, and sculptures. An $8 million expansion to be completed in 2010 will increase the current 52,000 square foot space to 74,000 square feet and will house six additional exhibition galleries, a family interactive gallery, connected museum parking, and new special event facilities. The museum is funded primarily by private and corporate donations and grants and is governed by the Huntsville Museum of Art Board of Directors.