History behind the WMA

DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) In 1986, a national magazine article named Dothan one of the worst places to live. Former Dothan Mayor, Larry Register responded by having murals, sculptures, and the Wiregrass Museum of Art created in downtown.

Before the WMA was home to 1,100 masterpieces, it was Dothan’s Municipal Light and Water Plant. The WMA, was converted to an art museum in 1991, and is on the national register of historic places.

"Collecting and exhibiting contemporary art,” said Dana-Marie Leemer, WMA Art Director and Curator. “The juxtaposition is always really fun to play with in a historic space."

WMA's seven galleries and garden includes folk art, work by Alabama artists and modern masters.

"We have the largest collection of Frank Stella prints in the State of Alabama," said Leemer.

Much is on display and the rest is kept in their vault. The museum educates through their programs, events, and temporary exhibitions that relate back to their permanent collections. The goal is to teach essential life skills.

"Building on the partnerships we have with the school systems, we have youth art and adult classes,” mentioned Leemer. “Screen on the green, a lot of community building activities, art after hours"
"people think creativity is about art but really creativity is about problem solving and working with other people."

The 18,000 square foot, three floor facility sees about 20,000 visitors each year. A majority of them being tourists.

"We want to get to know them, hear their stories, and hopefully connect them with something that they can enjoy here,” added Leemer.

The WMA is opened Wednesday thru Friday, from 10 a.m. To 5 p.m. ; and Saturday 10 a.m. To 3 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays they are available by appointment only. Also, admission to the museum is always free.

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