Letter from Drew Engles, M.D., President of the Board of Directors

Akron— The Board of Directors and the staff at Akron Art Museum have been working internally to transform the museum, its practices and partnerships. Board president Drew Engles, M.D. sets in motion a plan to begin a community-centered transformation. He announced these remarks in a letter to members:

Dear members of the Akron Art Museum community:

The first ten months of my tenure as Board President has been nothing short of a challenge.  The recent events surrounding the museum and the Board’s role in those events have opened my eyes to opportunities of improvement.  I have learned that we cannot continue to operate in the same way as we have.  It is time for me and for us to be better.

The following steps are being taken immediately:

  • Transform the Board such that the entire body, not just the Executive Committee, is tasked with leadership. This will increase the inclusiveness of the entire board.
  • The Board will become more proactive. The Board will work hard to support the breaking down of the organizational silos that previously existed.  The Board will become more engaged, more aware, and definitely more tied to the issues and challenges that many art museums face today.
  • We have established formal relationships with both the United Way of Akron and Janus Small & Associates to provide consultative services in the areas of Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion, board structure, board composition, board director training, review of our human resource policies, and employee engagement. This process will force us to take a good look at who we are today and to define who we want to be in the immediate future.  These services will also support the implementation of the previously announced, employee led, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion Council and a Community Advisory Board.  All of these initiatives will drive systemic changes throughout the institution and not be confined to just one area.  It is anticipated that this work will take 12-24 months with the results being permanently threaded into every aspect of the institution.

Many have asked for my resignation; and believe me I have thought long and hard regarding doing so.  However, I too am invested in this process of improvement.  I too want to be part of the solution; and I care too deeply about the institution and its role in our community.

Lastly and most importantly, I want to extend an apology to our staff and docents who have weathered this storm.  Their dedication and commitment to the institution and to their profession is nothing short of incredible.  I would also like to extend apologies to our museum members who understand the importance of art in all of our lives and quite frankly we exist for you; to our donors made up of individuals and foundations who empower us to bring art to the community; and to the greater Akron community; we need you and we are here for you.

I would like to thank everyone who has supported the museum in the past and hope to give you even more reason to do so in the future.


Drew Engles, M.D.

President, Board of Directors

Akron Art Museum Plans Reopening July 23 Limited Hours and Capacity; Free Admission

Akron  – The Akron Art Museum plans to reopen to the public in a limited capacity on Thursday, July 23. Member previews will begin July 16. AAM’s first phase hours will be Thursdays 11 am-9 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 11 am-5 pm. The limited hours will allow for proper cleaning of gallery and lobby areas before, during, and after opening. The Museum’s hours and days will likely expand later in the year.

“Arts are a respite and diversion for people even in the best of times,” Interim Director Jon Fiume said. “Opening the galleries and garden is an important service we can offer our community, but we wanted to do this in a way that kept wellness in mind. The staff came up with a plan that allows everyone to enjoy the spaces safely.”

Akron Art Museum has been working internally to ensure the safety of both the visitors and the staff. The Museum is following guidelines from the Ohio Governor’s Office and Ohio Department of Health (Responsible RestartOhio Retail, Consumer, Service & Entertainment Guidelines), CDC, the American Alliance of Museums, and best practices set forth by museum directors across the state and country as well as those by our local arts and culture partners for safe reopening amid COVID-19. Our plan has also been reviewed and approved by the Summit County Public Health Department.

Timed Ticketing

Until October 31, admission will be free. There will be limited capacity for the first month to support social distancing. Free tickets are available online at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/akron-art-museum-admission-tickets-110680337870. Those without easy internet access can call 330.376.9186 option “0″ for tickets. Tickets are on a first-come, first-served basis, and visitors should reserve tickets prior to a visit.

Timed ticketing will allow the museum to control audience numbers. One-way flow and floor markers will help ensure social distancing efforts. “Visitors will see changes, certainly. Staff will be wearing masks and we encourage visitors to do so as well. Signs will be posted to help remind people of the best ways to stay safe, but some things will be just as visitors remember. The Inverted Q sculpture by Claes Oldenburg will greet them at the door. El Anatsui’s Dzesi II will be in the galleries. Seeing old favorites will hopefully give our visitors some authentic experiences in a time when so much is in flux.”

Special Offers

  • All members of the Akron Art Museum will have early access beginning July 16 through July 18.
  • Through October 31, entry to the museum will be free for all visitors.
  • Between July 1 and October 31, all new and renewing memberships will receive 25% off at any level of membership.
  • All active memberships as of June 30, 2020 will be automatically extended for 3 months. If you wish to renew your membership or become a new member, visit https://www.akronartmuseum.org/join-give/ or call 330.376.9186 option “0″.

Health and Safety Guidelines

Upon entry, visitors will notice signage designed to keep them informed about AAM’s health and safety protocols and processes:

  • The museum will be contactless. No cash will be accepted
  • Staff will be required to wear masks and we encourage visitors to do so as well
  • Acrylic partitions have been erected at the visitor desk
  • Regular and thorough sanitization occurs throughout the day and after-hours
  • Sanitization stations are available throughout the building
  • One-flow through the galleries will support social distancing
  • Social distancing markers and reminders have been placed throughout the building
  • No food service is available onsite
  • The Museum store will be online only
  • Tours and programs will remain digital

The Akron Art Museum team will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments as needed.

Summer programming will remain virtual. The wildly popular Downtown @ Dusk will continue, though moving online. Studio experiences and virtual tours are also available. “Virtual offerings are an important addition, and we’re glad we have the bandwidth to do so. But visiting the galleries and seeing the authentic works of art is unlike anything you can experience at home. We’re glad to find ways to allow our community into the galleries.”

City of Akron and Arts Partners Launch Art Blooms in Akron

AKRON, OH (June 15, 2020) – The City of Akron has announced a collaborative effort to bring art and nature to residents across the city titled, “Art Blooms in Akron.”

In Akron, our natural resources and city-wide creativity are a vital part of who we are as a community. Beginning June 15, 2020 residents of all ages are encouraged to share their Akron pride by creating pieces of art and displaying them in their front yard. In addition, residents will be provided with My First Garden Flower seeds to bring the beauty of nature to their front lawn.

Thanks to the support of Akron Community Foundation’s Community Response Fund for Nonprofits, supplies and instructions will be delivered to the first 250 people to register. To register, visit Lock3live.com or call 330-375-2877. In addition, 18 winners, categorized by age from pre-K to seniors, will be awarded gift certificates, memberships to the Akron Art Museum and Akron Children’s Museum, and bags of art supplies. Instructions to submit will be included with your supplies and a panel of judges will pick the winners. All participants are encouraged to share on social media using #ArtBloomsinAkron.

“We believe in the resiliency and creativity of the citizens of Akron,” said Mayor Dan Horrigan. “This project reminds us that we can all create art regardless of our age or training and that artistic expression is a meaningful and important pursuit. I am excited to see messages of hope throughout our community and to celebrate the talent here in Akron.”

“We believe everyone has an innate ability and desire to create” said Traci Buckner, Executive Director of Akron Children’s Museum. “Both children and adults benefit from the act of creative expression. This opportunity to express themselves through art comes at the perfect time and will certainly be a positive experience for all involved.”

Let your creativity bloom, Akron!

For additional information, please see www.Lock3live.com. Questions can be directed to LJernigan@akronohio.gov

This program was made possible by support from Akron Community Foundation’s Community Response Fund for Nonprofits and collaboration with Akron Art Museum, Akron Children’s Museum, Akron Public Schools, Akron Soul Train, Akron Urban League, ArtsNow, City of Akron, Crafty Mart, and Myers School of Art at The University of Akron.

Letter from the Interim Director

The Akron Art Museum opposes racism, inequality and injustice in all its forms.

The violent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Tamir Rice, Ahmaud Arbery, and numerous other Black people, whose names we will never know, have been beyond tragic, unnecessary, and frankly disgraceful to who we are as a society and as a country.

These tragedies and the resulting rightful public unrest have unveiled opportunities for all of us as individuals, as a community, and specifically as an art museum to rise up and initiate permanent change. Although the solutions may not yet be apparent, the mandate for the work that we have to do is crystal clear. That work is beginning now.

During the past two weeks, our organization has opened lines of communication with numerous community leaders and specifically those within the Black community. We sought to listen to their concerns, to answer their questions, and discuss how we can be better community partners and leaders. These conversations have provided us tremendous insight leading us to set an objective to foster a culture of open communication, trust, respect for each other and collaboration.


  • Improve leadership with increased and continued training focused on self-awareness and the elimination of bias.
  • Create an internal Diversity Council focused on diversity/equity/and inclusion both within our institution and the art museum sector. This includes the establishment of a statement of diversity, inclusion, and equity that is woven into all areas of the museum including programming, exhibits and day to day operations.
  • Create a Community Advisory Council to collaboratively connect organizations, artists, the City and neighborhoods, supporting the initiatives and needs of each other while increasing our community engagement.
  • Increase our racial diversity with our collection, exhibitions, events, educational programming, members, board, and staff.

In the weeks ahead, we will continue to share updates on the progress of these initiatives. We can and will do more. The Akron Art Museum has been a cornerstone of the Akron community for close to 100 years. We stand in solidarity with all the victims of racism and will be relentless in our pursuit of local solutions to this national emergency. We will be a leader in this effort through our actions, not our words.

With respect and commitment,

Jon A. Fiume
Interim Executive Director
Akron Art Museum

Akron Art Museum Director Resigns – Search for replacement to commence immediately

Akron, Ohio – Akron Art Museum (AAM) Director Mark Masuoka has resigned his position effective immediately and longtime Akron businessman and former AAM Board member Jon Fiume has been selected as Interim Director while a search begins for a permanent replacement.

The AAM will establish a multi-faceted search committee comprised of Board members, Museum staff, and community leaders with credentials in both the art world and the Akron region. An executive search firm will be selected by this committee to guide the process.

An important focus of the committee and the selected search firm will be finding an executive with world-class art knowledge, exceptional leadership skills, and business acumen plus the ability to create a positive culture that fosters a rewarding and respectful environment for both staff and patrons. We expect a deliberate process and are in the process of establishing an appropriate timetable.

“In accepting Mark’s resignation, the Board agreed it was time for a change in leadership that represents an opportunity to create a new direction for the Museum as we build a new organizational culture for the future,” said Dr. Drew Engles, AAM Board Chair.

Mr. Fiume is an active member of Akron’s civic and arts community. His current or former roles include Board Director and Vice Chairman, Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens; ArtsNow Board Trustee and Vice President; Reviewer of the Knight Foundation’s Arts Challenge Akron, and former Board Trustee of the Akron Art Museum from 2005-2015.

“The Akron Art Museum is a vital cultural resource and outlet for our community as well as a personal passion of mine. I am honored to work closely with the staff and Board and ensure a seamless transition to new leadership,” said Mr. Fiume.

“Jon’s reputation as an outstanding operational leader in the business community combined with his knowledge of and passion for the arts makes him a perfect choice to lead the Museum through this transition,” said Dr. Engles.

Akron Art Museum to Remain Closed Until Further Notice

Akron— The Akron Art Museum will be closed to the public until at least June 30. “The museum has made this decision, proactively, for the health and well-being of the staff and community despite the financial hardship it will cause the organization,” said Mark Masuoka, the John S. Knight Director and CEO. “The safety of our community is paramount. While we could have waited to react to evolving government decisions, the uncertainty this causes our staff and community adds stress in an already uncertain time.” The museum is in the process of making widespread changes to mitigate the precarious position this decision causes.

The museum previously announced canceling programs through April 30. With this move, many more programs are impacted. Late spring and early summer bring many patrons to the Akron Art Museum. The prolonged closure required the cancellation of 81 programs, including 45 school tours. Overall, more than 2,000 children were impacted, along with countless families and other patrons.

“Making cuts and changes are painful but necessary. The museum began with conversations across the board about stalling all discretionary expenses and other spending.” Numerous changes will be made to run through the calendar year. The museum’s quarterly publication, View, will be published as digital-only. Travel expenses are being cut. The library and archives will be closed to the external reference queries until further notice. Much of the on-site programming will be scaled back throughout the rest of the year. These changes were made not only to decrease expenses but to manage risk. “Connecting patrons to collections is why museums exist, and we’ll continue to do that virtually,” said Masuoka, “but we also need to think about the staff. Minimizing uncertainty is essential to being able to survive these tough times.” The school tour program will be scaled back as well as our Thursday family programs until January 2021. The exhibition program will be reconsidered and possibly scaled back. Some previously funded partner programs will be moved to virtual platforms, like the program for seniors, Meet Me at the Museum. The wildly popular Downtown at Dusk summer concert series will be likely be impacted as well.

The Annual Auction and Art and Ale, fundraisers which collectively generate 5.5% of the annual operating income, will ideally be postponed until fall. “Postponing the Auction was the right choice but a tough one. It’s well-loved and brings in important revenue. Our board recommended postponing the event, and our generous sponsors understood we could not convene such a large group during this pandemic,” Masuoka said.

“Despite belt-tightening measures, we could find no way to make it through this unprecedented situation without making changes to staffing,” continued Masuoka. The Akron Art Museum is facing a $329,000 direct shortfall in earned income. The total impact of the closure, including potentially lost memberships and donation losses due to the financial downturn, is estimated to be $933,000. The museum’s annual overall budget allocations are based in part on anticipated earned income. This closure lost the museum 22% of the anticipated operating budget. Nearly 63% of the fixed cost of the organization is staffing. “We’ve been fortunate for the generosity of our sponsors, donors, and foundations who are committed to supporting us, but many of them are facing the same difficult decisions,” said Masuoka. “This decision is very difficult, and not one I took lightly. Our staff is exceptional, and this choice is no reflection of their work. My goal is to stabilize our organization so that we can bring our employees back to work as soon as possible.”

The staffing changes will impact 100% of the organization. “The leadership team unanimously voted to take a 10% pay cut,” said Masuoka. The market has adversely impacted our endowment value and will affect the amount of future draws available. Rather than take an additional draw from the endowment, the board authorized the use of its “rainy-day fund,” and exploring the consideration of activating a line of credit. Masuoka said, “We did everything we could to increase the number of staff we could retain in various capacities, and we are very grateful for the board’s continued support.”

The action affected all departments. Status changes were based on the immediate needs of maintaining the museum’s essential operations and maintaining a continued connection to patrons during a prolonged closure. All full-time employees will be impacted: 11% will be furloughed, 32% changed to part-time status with work responsibilities decreasing accordingly, 36% will be retained at full time with a 5% pay cut, and work responsibilities decreased accordingly. All part-time employees will be furloughed.

“My goal was to explore ways to ensure some measure of comfort for our staff within our limited means,” said Masuoka. Employees will be paid full wages until May 1. The employee share of health insurance premiums for any full-time employees facing a status change will be paid through June 30. The museum will be available to help impacted staff with unemployment procedures. Staff will be able to return to their original roles at their original salary when and if those positions become available.

“We understand job changes further impact the terrible stress of this situation, and we anticipate bringing back our staff as soon as possible,” said Masuoka. Expenditure cuts in the upcoming fiscal year will decrease the future risk of cash flow challenges and workload for returning staff. “We’re focusing on the period after furlough, which will include a leaner budget for the upcoming year. Our Advancement Team is currently hard at work with our donors, sponsors, and foundations to ensure the financial and institutional health of our museum for the future.”

For more information about the Akron Art Museum, visit the museum online and on social media.

Akron Art Museum closes starting March 14th to support public health effort

FOR RELEASE: March 13, 2020

Akron—In response to the state of emergency declared by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and concerns of “community spread” of COVID-19, Akron Art Museum joins state and national museums in closing to the public starting March 14th until further notice. The museum had previously postponed all public programming originally scheduled through April 30. The museum staff is reaching out to anyone with upcoming scheduled events in the building and will update any changes on its website along with its social media channels.

“Museums are about people, in the end, and the health and wellness about our community is paramount in our minds. We feel this is the best for both our visitors but also our staff,” said Museum Director Mark Masuoka. “Our staff will be working, though many will be invited to work from home. We will be compensating all staff including the part time employees. We are thankful to our board, donors, and members for their support to be able to do so.”

The following events had already been postponed or canceled:

Ongoing: All public, school, and private group tours are cancelled
Ongoing: Research requests from The Martha Stecher Reed Library 
March 14: Be Inspired by Art, Yoga and Meditation and Explore: Elias Sime: Tightrope tour 
March 19: Art Babes 
March 21: Family Film Fest 
March 26: Your Say, Akron: Community Conversations 
March 28: Art & Ale 
March 29: Artist Talk: Elias Sime 
April 2: Creative Playdate 
April 4: Tots Create and Kids Studio 
April 9: Night at the Museum and After-School Mind Unwind 
April 14: Explore: The Kids are Alright tour 
April 15: Meet Me at the Museum 
April 18: Explore: The Kids are Alright tour 
April 18: AAM AfterWork 
April 30: Teach Talk 

Senior leadership is meeting regularly to review recommendations and adjust our policies and processes as the situation evolves.

13th Annual Art & Ale at the Akron Art Museum Celebrates Local Brews and Social Experiences

Akron—The Akron Art Museum will hold its popular craft beer tasting event, Art & Ale on Saturday March 28. The wildly popular event will continue its expanded format from last year, with two tasting sessions and VIP ticket options. Fans can purchase a ticket for one of two sessions: the first from 2:00 to 5:00 P.M. and the second from 6:00 to 9:00 P.M.  Art & Ale pairs exceptional craft brews with delicious offerings from local food purveyors and includes coveted awards for best overall brew and people’s choice. Tickets are available at akronartmuseum.org/ale.

Akron Art Museum Deputy Director and Chief Experience Officer Seema Rao said, “Museums need to engage visitors in relevant, surprising ways. Art and Ale is a great example of a social experience Akronites can’t get anywhere else–good times, brews, and our incredible art and architecture.”

As with previous years, the museum expects swift ticket sales. The event has sold out early the past several years. Akron Art Museum Director of Advancement Bryan deBoer noted, “We’re proud to partner with many wonderful breweries to give our visitors an exemplary experience.”

Building on the success of last year, the museum will offer VIP ticket option again at this year’s event. Only 75 VIP tickets will be available per session. The experience includes tastings of specialty beers complemented by a selection of gourmet small bites and an official Art & Ale swag bag.

“Last year’s VIPs loved the additions like small-batch specialty beers along with great food and added perks. We’re thrilled to be able to offer this option again this year,” de Boer said.

The museum galleries will be open to Art & Ale attendees, but the museum will be closed to the public on the day of the event. Only Art & Ale ticket-holders will be permitted entry. The museum will reopen to the public on Sunday, March 10 at 11 A.M.

Attendees can vote for the People’s Choice award during both the afternoon and evening sessions. The Curator’s Choice award will be judged during the evening session. Both awards will be presented during the evening session. 2019’s award winners included Goose Island Beer Co. (Curator’s Choice) and R. Shea Brewing Co. won the People’s Choice award for the third consecutive year. A list of participating brewers, food purveyors and non-beer beverage makers, along with ticket options is available at akronartmuseum.org/ale and will be updated daily.

Ohio beers will be judged by Sara Marino from ACME Fresh Market, Rick Armon beer writer from the Akron Beacon Journal, and Marc Bona from Cleveland.com.

Art & Ale is for ages 21 and older. A state-issued form of I.D. is required.

Art & Ale is presented by Acme Fresh Market with additional support provided by Rhinegeist Brewery, Saucy Brew Works, Goose Island Beer Co., Platform Beer Co., Alaskan Brewing, The J.M. Smucker Company and TKM.

Media sponsorship is provided by The Summit FM

Akron Art Museum to continue Juried Game Design Showcase, GameFest Akron

Akron, Ohio—The Akron Art Museum is calling for submissions of video games and tabletop games from developers and game-creators for GameFest Akron (previously called Open World Arcade), a day-long indie game event held at the museum on Saturday, November 7, 2020. Game submissions will be accepted from March 1 through June 1, 2020. Games can be entered for free by going to http://akronartmuseum.org/gamefestakron. Entries will be judged by a panel of museum staff and video game professionals based on novelty, professional polish, aesthetics, quality of game experience, and “wow factor.” Games do not need to be inspired by art or the Akron Art Museum collection.

Akron Art Museum Deputy Director and Chief Experience Officer Seema Rao noted “We’re excited to offer this day-long celebration of play and creativity to our visitors. Playing alongside the actual designers takes gaming to another level.” Last year’s event drew more than 500 patrons. The museum hopes to draw larger crowds this year by making the event free to museum members. Rao added, “Last year’s event had some of the most diverse audiences we’ve seen. Senior citizens played alongside teenagers. Adult children brought their parents. We can’t wait to see the audiences for this year’s event.”

Games submitted for entry don’t need to present art-related subject matter or adhere to an art theme. Curator of Exhibitions Theresa Bembnister notes, “The Akron Art Museum is dedicated to highlighting the best of contemporary creative expression. Indie game designers are producing extraordinary works. This year, we’ll be able to offer honoraria to the designers selected to showcase their work in November.”

Developers of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Both professional and student games will be accepted. Selected independently-designed games will be featured in GameFest Akron at the Akron Art Museum on Saturday, November 7, 2019 from 11:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Ticketed by free for members. $15 for non-member adults. All children 12 and under free.

Monumental, Complex Tableaus by Elias Sime Coming to Akron Art Museum

Akron—From a distance, Ethiopian artist Elias Sime’s artworks appear to be large-scale abstract paintings. Upon closer inspection, their complexity and nontraditional materials become apparent. Sime’s tableaus are not paintings at all, but breathtaking compositions assembled from thousands of motherboards, buttons, computer keyboard keys and electrical wires. Visitors to the Akron Art Museum can experience Sime’s work in person when Elias Sime: Tightrope opens on Saturday, February 29, 2020. Tightrope is Sime’s first major traveling survey and contains two works created specifically for the exhibition, exhibited alongside several earlier stitched canvases.

Curator of Exhibitions Theresa Bembnister said, “Despite their massive scale, Sime’s works invite contemplation. Many pieces are eight or nine feet tall with some being more than 15 feet long, creating an immersive visual experience. His choice of materials encourages close looking.“

Sime develops a concept for an artwork and then sources the materials, sometimes taking years to realize the final composition depending on his success locating sufficient quantities of specific items. For this purpose, the artist searches stores and marketplaces to purchase both new and used items.

Despite his practice of reuse, Sime maintains his work is not about recycling, but rather is about his attraction to the properties of nontraditional materials. He sees latent beauty in functional objects and seeks to challenge traditional ideas about which types of media are appropriate for creating fine art. Additionally, he invites the audience to engage in an open dialogue about sustainability.

Tightrope refers to a series of artworks Sime has created over the last decade and also serves as the exhibition’s title. The balancing act it implies relates to the advancements technology has made possible, as well as its potentially detrimental impact as a mediator of our personal interactions and lived experiences.

“It becomes so much a part of us that we can’t even disconnect from it. It actually takes us from being human,” Sime says. “If you don’t talk to people face to face, you won’t understand complex issues, complex personalities, love, relationships.”

Sime weaves his materials into breathtaking artworks that express a sense of personal connection, saying, “My art is a reflection of who I am as a human being without borders, labels and imposed identity. There is a sense of unity and cooperation that I reflect through my art. At the root of all of it is love and passion.”

Elias Sime: Tightrope opens at the Akron Art Museum on Saturday, February 29, 2020 with a members’ preview launch party from 11:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M., featuring curator-led tours of the exhibition and other activities to enhance the experience of the exhibition. Museum members receive complimentary admission. Nonmember admission is $12. Registration is requested at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/elias-sime-tightrope-members-preview-tickets-91148219779

Elias Sime: Tightrope is organized by the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College, Clinton, New York. Curated by Tracy L. Adler, the Wellin Museum’s Johnson-Pote Director, the exhibition was on view there from September 7 through December 8, 2019. Following its presentation in Akron, the exhibition will travel to the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri (June 11 through September 13, 2020), and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada (October 24, 2020 through February 21, 2021).

Its presentation in Akron is made possible through the generous support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Ohio Arts Council; The Tom and Marilyn Merryweather Fund; the Kenneth L. Calhoun Charitable Trust, KeyBank, Trustee; Katie and Mark Smucker; and Mr. and Mrs. Joseph S. Kanfer.