The Longview Museum of Fine Arts is a non-profit organization which seeks to create interest in, and promote knowledge of, the visual arts throughout the City of Longview and vicinity by exhibiting, interpreting and preserving works of art and providing educational opportunities to a diverse audience.
The Longview Museum of Fine Arts was begun by the Junior Service League of Longview in 1958, and held its first yearly Invitational Exhibit in 1959. Jerry Bywaters, Director of the Dallas Museum of Art, acted as consultant to the League and juror for that event. The staff of Nicholson Memorial Library sustained the Museum. In 1970, a Museum charter was issued by the State of Texas and the League's collection was place on permanent loan. The Museum has been located in five different locations since 1958. The present location on Tyler Street was renovated in 1997. The inaugural exhibit was held on January 17, 1998, with an opening and workshop by world renowned photographers, Ruth Bernhard & Michael Kenna. In 2005, Ann Lowman donated property at the corner of Tyler and Fredonia Streets to begin a Sculpture Garden, with a piece donated by Steel & Pipe Co., Inc. Charlotte & John Wrather also donated their property toward this space.
Today the Museum displays its permanent collection in the Wrather Gallery, the main gallery inside the front doors. The Martin-Stoudt (Premier I) and Barrow-Cave (Premier II) Galleries adjoining the Wrather Gallery host traveling or temporary exhibits six times per year, with private members' receptions the weekend before opening to the public. The permanent collection is also rotated at this time. Exhibits remain up for six weeks then entertain a two week break before the next exhibit is ready. The Judge J.T. Smith Sculpture Garden rotates exhibits annually.
LMFA has a permanent collection of over 400 paintings, etchings, woodcuts, photographs, works on paper, lithographs, serigraphs, collages and pieces of sculpture. Works from contemporary regional artists (Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana) are the primary sources for the collection. The museum strives to exhibit the "best of the best" in order to share works with members and visitors, making Longview a better place to live and visit, and the museum a jewel in the eyes of the community.
1958 The Junior Service League of Longview initiated and promoted development of an art museum.
1959 The First Annual Invitational was held in April, and the Junior Service League began its collection with the first purchase award.
1959-71 The collection the League acquired through the annual invitational was housed in the Nicholson Memorial Library.
1970 The Museum was issued a charter from the State of Texas.
1971 The inaugural Exhibition opened in the McWilliams Annex, made available by Mr. Robert Cargill, at this time the League's collection was put on permanent loan to the Museum.
1971 The Museum hired its first full-time Director.
1971 The Longview Museum Guild was formed.
1973 The Museum moved to the Perkins building on the corner of Green and Tyler Street.
1974 The "Day at the Museum" program started, with local schools bringing students to visit the museum for a day.
1976 The Museum purchased and moved to the Northcutt Furniture Building at 102 W. College.
1997 The Museum purchased the present building on Tyler Street with funding from the Junior League, Neiman Marcus, Mr and Mrs. John Wrather, and many other contributors.
1999 The Museum purchased the Fisher-Sessums building next door to the Museum to increase classroom space.
2005 Ann Lowman donated a lot at 137 E. Tyler Street for the purpose of placing sculpture as an extension of LMFA. The plot will be called the J. T. Smith Sculpture Garden, after her ancestor who was a Gregg County Judge.
2008 Longview Museum of Fine Arts celebrates its 50th Anniversary.
2010 LMFA renovates the front building facade with the help of a Main Street Grant and the efforts of its board members. The note on the Fisher-Sessums building next door is also paid.
2011 Over $250,000 is raised to begin work on renovations for ArtWorks.
2012 LMFA opened ArtWorks: Creative Learning Center, an art space for creating and teaching.
2012-14 Locals Love Us - Tourist Destination & Event Facility Winner!
2015 Texas Bank & Trust Lecture Hall and Wece B. & Martha A. Johnson Foundation Storage Vault Opens.