Established in 2011 and incorporated in 2013, The Kelly—an all-volunteer, 501(c)3 organization—can best be described as the hybrid of a gallery and a museum. As a gallery, it sponsors exhibits and promotes the sale of art. Following are The Kelly’s activities in its functioning as a gallery:
- rotating exhibits and receptions,
- gallery tours,
- art competitions,
- The Kelly Artist Market,
- online exhibits for member artists,
- monthly art walk opportunities for member artists, and
- various art workshops.
As a museum, The Kelly possesses and displays permanent collections, implements art education, and engages with the community in various collaborative, outreach initiatives. Following are The Kelly’s activities in its functioning as a museum:
- permanent collection exhibitions,
- K-12 educational programs,
- workshops and forums for art educators,
- Portfolio Day for high school and community college students,
- online lesson plans,
- The Kelly’s Learning Lab for educators and students,
- Tuesdays With Kelly (monthly lunch-and-learn programs)
- monthly outdoor art workshops for children, and
- Alabama’s Art Road Trips (also known as “The Kelly Caravan”).
Some activities pertain to The Kelly’s combined role as gallery and museum:
- the Sylvia McConnell Scholarship Award,
- online promotion of permanent collections and themed exhibits, and
- promotion of artists via website and social media platforms.
To keep regular and artist members informed and to stimulate artistic inquiry, The Kelly communicates in the following ways:
- The Kelly Canvas (a quarterly newsletter/magazine),
- a monthly blog,
- a website to promote member artists,
- Facebook, Instagram and
- e-mail notifications of upcoming events.
Numbers tell an impressive story of The Kelly’s ten-year history—beginning with the growth of our membership from 74 charter members to 174 members . We have acquired 167 works of art, representing 66 artists in five distinct areas: historical artists, currently working artists, abstract art, insider/outsider art, and international art. The Kelly has presented 80 exhibits/events, hosted and promoted 952 artists, showcased the collections of 75 Alabama collectors, presented more than 89 educational programs, and collaborated with 86 organizations and businesses.
We have been supported by 50 art donors and sponsored monetarily by 86 organizations. The Kelly has received seven grants. Four are from the Alabama State Council on the Art: 2015 Art Impact (featuring art depicting Wetumpka Impact Crater), 2017 Alabama Jubilee (year-long celebration of Alabama art and artists), 2020 Building and Planning grant, 2020 Paint the Town. Two other grants were from Central Alabama Community Foundation: 2020 Gallery Equipment grant and 2020 Camp Kelly. The last grant was from Alabama Power Foundation for the purchase of a building.
Despite its many successes, an enormous trial confronted The Kelly on January 19, 2019. After only a week into a new exhibit showing, a tornado hit Wetumpka and caused much destruction. The Kelly was fortunate enough not to be hit, but not so fortunate enough not to be displaced. The Kelly was located in the City of Wetumpka’s Administrative Building (408 S. Main St., 2nd floor). The mayor called several board members to inform them that the local police department needed The Kelly’s space—almost immediately. This was because Federal regulations require sensitive weapons to be placed in a vault, and this building was the only building the city owned which had a vault. With only a week to vacate, The Kelly was busy packing up everything for the hurried move. First, The Kelly had to figure out what events they could possibly still host while operating out of a storage building. It was decided that the museum would carry on with Tuesdays with Kelly, The Kelly Artist Market, the members’ party, and the online exhibit, The Treasure Hunt 2019.
The new building was another matter. The newly formed search committee looked high and low in Wetumpka. However, most buildings either needed too much work (including asbestos work) or were simply too costly. Luckily, the Chamber of Commerce reached out to The Kelly with an offer to rent space, so The Kelly found a temporary home at 110 East Bridge Street in Wetumpka. This allowed The Kelly to continue with exhibitions, time to recoup, and continue to look for a permanent home.
The Kelly was awarded grant money from the Alabama Power Foundation, which allowed us to purchase a new home at 124 Company Street in historic downtown Wetumpka. The grant was enough to purchase the building and make required renovations. The Kelly plans to move into the new building later this year, 2021.
We hope to see you there.