After five decades of service and leadership to the nations arts community, John B. Henry, Director of the Flint Institute of Arts
for the last 24 years, has announced that he will retire in 2022.
From the day that I arrived in Flint nearly 25 years ago, my goal has been to help the FIA reach its full potential as an art museum, educational institution and gathering place where everyone feels invited and comfortable, said Henry. With the generous support of our members, volunteers, staff and community, and the strong leadership of our Board of Trustees, weve made great strides towards that goal. Im proud of that success and of having played a role in making the arts an essential part of the greater Flint communitys future.
Prior to joining the FIA, Henry served as Director of the Vero Beach Museum of Art in Vero Beach, Florida; Director of Collections and Exhibitions at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, Mississippi; and General Curator at the Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus, Georgia.
Henrys career, particularly at the FIA, will leave an indelible legacy in the arts community, said Dr. James Fox, noted art historian and broadcaster, and research fellow at Gonville and Caius College at the University of Cambridge.
"It is difficult to imagine the FIA without John at its helm, Fox said. Since his arrival in 1996, he has infused it with a combination of ambition, energy and swagger that is uniquely his. John's relentless efforts have turned the FIA into one of the most exciting museums in the country and admired all over the world."
Since being named its director in 1996, Henry has overseen the FIAs expansion into the second largest arts museum in Michigan. At more than 171,000 square feet, it boasts 25 galleries, as well as state-of-the-art storage facilities and the countrys fourth largest in-house art school.
The FIAs growth as an arts institution under Henrys tenure also is evidenced in its collections. Today, the museums holdings include 237 works by Black American artists up from 33 in 1996 and 612 works by women artists, up from 195 when Henry became director. Henrys impact on the collection has been substantial. During his tenure, the museum has added 4,746 works to the collection, bringing the total number to 9,567 objects.
He also has expanded the FIAs outreach activities, which bring arts programming to schools in Flint and throughout mid-Michigan, as well as services tailored to preschoolers, families, pre-college students, senior citizens and persons with memory loss.
Elizabeth Murphy, past president of the FIAs Board of Trustees, notes that under Henrys leadership the institution was named in 2002 an American Treasure by the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, and received the Institutional Achievement Award from the Michigan Museums Association in 2003 and the Governor's Award for Art and Culture in 2007.
During his tenure, John has led the FIA through a period of unparalleled growth, she said. He came to us with a vision of what could be and the unique skills to bring it to fruition, and since has transformed the museum and art school into the crown jewels of the mid-Michigan arts community.
Murphy notes that Henry will remain as director of the FIA in 2022 as the museum seeks his successor.
The FIA is located on the Flint Cultural Center campus situated east of the city center two blocks off I-475 between UM-Flint and Mott Community College.