David Butler

By David Butler, Executive Director, Knoxville Museum of Art 

KNOXVILLE, TN — It’s been my honor and pleasure to serve as executive director of the Knoxville Museum of Art since 2006. I plan to retire from the best job ever, effective December 31, 2023, and wanted KMA members to know before the news is released to the media. A committee of KMA trustees led by former board chair Steve Bailey is already at work on the search for the new director. I’m proud of all we’ve accomplished together and am confident that, with your help, the museum will continue to thrive under new leadership. Ted and I look forward to staying in Knoxville and maintaining close connections with our extended KMA family. 

The art and artists of Knoxville and the surrounding region are central to the KMA’s mission. Soon we’ll be strengthening our core identity by expanding Higher Ground: A Century of the Visual Arts in East Tennessee, the museum’s flagship permanent exhibition, and moving it to a larger space. This will require some complicated maneuvering over the next few months. In mid-May, the second and third floors of the building will close so that we can dismantle the current Higher Ground installation on the third floor and begin renovation work on the two second-floor (entry-level) galleries that will house the new installation. The garden level (Bailey Hall, Thorne Rooms, Administrative Offices, Martin Studios, Heller Garden, Land Family Sculpture Garden, & South Garden) will remain accessible during the construction period. The third floor will reopen in early June with a series of interactive video installations on one side and an updated edition of Currents: Recent Works from East Tennessee and Beyond on the other. Higher Ground reopens in its newly refurbished second-floor quarters the first week of November. Because it’s a permanent exhibition, objects will cycle in and out, but Higher Ground will be open whenever the museum is open. That means that visitors will always be greeted with the best our region has to offer.

Despite the disruptions, there will still be a lot going on this spring and summer! You don’t want to miss the Sarah Jane Hardrath Kramer Lecture on May 4 with internationally acclaimed artist Willie Cole (currently featured in our Tennessee Triennial exhibition), followed by Kick Off to Summer on May 12, the best party of the year. Summer Art Academy starts on June 4, and classes are already filling up. You can keep track of spring and summer happenings at the KMA at www.knoxart.org. 

Thank you for your support of the KMA!