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The Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Awards
Franklin G. Burroughs – Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum
2013 Organization Award
Since opening its doors in 1997, the Franklin G. Burroughs – Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum has pursued it mission to be one of the finest art institutions in the Carolinas. It offers major exhibitions appealing to a diverse array of interests for both the vacationing visitor to Myrtle Beach and year-round residents of the coastal region. Signature events have included exhibitions of acclaimed hometown artists such as Brian Rutenberg, Frederick Hart, Sigmund Abeles and Alex Powers; renowned S.C. natives Jonathan Green and Jasper Johns; and national treasures Ansel Adams and John James Audubon.
To celebrate its 15th anniversary in 2012, the museum chose to focus on cultivating awareness of the arts across the Grand Strand region. The celebration, I Heart Art, resulted in eight major events, more than $100,000 in new revenue, plus new members and sponsors. The effort included working with other regional arts organizations and partnering with local businesses and individuals to expand awareness of artists and available arts programs.
Museum visitors experience provocative and challenging learning and discourse through an array of programming and educational opportunities. Members of the public have had opportunities to learn and interact with Native American dancers, Tibetan monks, civil rights icons and the famous quilters from Gees Bend, Alabama. Opportunities to celebrate the diversity of the region have included family events around Dia de los Muertos, Chinese New Year and events honoring Gullah culture. The programs are designed to promote interaction across age, gender, race, socioeconomic status and geography.
Perhaps the greatest beneficiaries of the museum’s emphasis on diversity are the community’s children. The museum offers tours and hands-on learning experiences free of charge to school groups, daycare centers, Boys and Girls clubs, scout troops and other organizations in order to introduce children to the arts and culture of the region and state. The museum’s annual juried high school exhibition celebrates young, emerging artists and has awarded thousands of dollars in prizes and scholarships.
Since 2003, the museum has been a free admission institution. In addition, much of the programming surrounding exhibitions is also offered free of charge, thanks to a coalition of membership, donors, sponsors and government support that ensures access for all.