This section will include information pertaining to the expansion project scheduled for completion in the fall of 2017. 


Several major equipment purchases still need funding including glass, furnaces, annealing ovens, elevator, retractable seating, studio furniture, audio/video equipment, and gallery lighting. We wish to thank all those who have made contributions to the capital campaign so far. Our goal is an additional $1 million for equipment and $4 million of endowment to support the expanded operation.

Keep the flame burning with your contributions. Contact Kathryn Sharbaugh at, call 810.234.1695, or click the link above. 

Doris Sutton

Doris Sutton

Recently, the FIA received incredible and bittersweet news in the form of an unexpected bequest from Doris Sutton.  Had she told us of her estate plans, the FIA would have enjoyed celebrating her generosity during her lifetime through acknowledgement in the Renaissance Society. Established to recognize and honor individuals who have notified the FIA that they have made provisions for the museum in their estate planning, the Renaissance Society has no fees or membership dues. Member names appear, with their permission, on the FIA website and in its Annual Report under Planned Giving. The society allows both donors and the FIA to review their wishes and ensure how their support will contribute to the mission of the FIA for generations to come. 

A long-time donor to the Art School, Mrs. Sutton’s generosity helped cover expenses for materials, supplies, and scholarships for children. She was clear “that the funds be used to allow access to the arts, particularly for those with innate talents but [who] lack the means to achieve their potential.” Each year, Mrs. Sutton remained informed on the impact of her contributions through reports from the Art School on the students, their ages, classes attended, and their success.

Through her bequest, she will continue to support children in the Art School. Mrs. Sutton wrote, “Let these children sing the well-known spiritual by William Farley Smith, This Little Light of Mine, as their own.” The FIA honors Mrs. Sutton. Her legacy will continue to help the FIA provide access for children to realize their talents and fulfill their dreams. We are grateful.

For a brochure on the FIA’s Renaissance Society, please contact Kathryn Sharbaugh, 810.234.1695 or 

Kari Russell-Pool, Daisy Chain, 2004VIEW LARGER IMAGE

The expansion project includes converting the existing 3,960 sq. ft. exterior courtyard in the Art School into a covered, multi-purpose studio Makerspace for glassblowing, 3D art classes, and public demonstrations. The Art School is also adding a cold shop, a sculpture modeling studio, and a Flameworking Studio. Flameworking is a technique used by artists to create glassworks including beads, paperweights, and sculptures.

The Flameworking Studio is designed specifically to fabricate glass using torches. This specialized studio will be located on the second floor with appropriate specifications for electrical, gas, and ventilation. The studio will be equipped with fireproof steel tables, high-quality torches, kilns, and specialized tools. The natural synergy between the Flamework and Glassblowing Studios will allow students in the Flameworking Studio to watch glassblowing and aesthetically stimulate them to incorporate techniques into their objects. Some of the most accomplished flamework artists frequently encase their works in molten glass, which requires a blowing facility. These new spaces will increase the FIA’s ability to provide all methods of glassmaking to the community.

The FIA thanks the A. G. Bishop Trust for helping the Art School provide a studio for one of the most exciting and popular techniques that glass artists are using today.

Kari Russell-Pool, American, b. 1967, Daisy Chain, 2004, Flameworked glass, 16 x 12 x 12 inches. Gift of Claire White, FIA 2005.17

Guardian Security Consultant Eric Bindig (left), presents a check in support of the expansion project to Kathryn Sharbaugh, FIA Development Director and John Henry, FIA Executive Director in the FIA Art School welding studio.

“Providing security to the Flint Institute of Arts means that Guardian Alarm becomes a partner with the museum in protecting and preserving valuable pieces of art for visitors both from within and outside of our community to enjoy,” says Guardian Security Consultant Eric Bindig. “Guardian offers the same peace of mind to our other customers by protecting their homes and businesses.

Like Guardian, the FIA is a Michigan-based organization that benefits people throughout the state. They do a great job of keeping their fingers on the pulse of what’s fresh without forgetting to highlight pieces at the core of the collection, like the tapestries in the Bray Collection. Both the FIA and Guardian have served Michigan for more than 80 years and we look forward to continuing financial and service support in the future.”  

Guardian Security Consultant Eric Bindig (left), presents a check in support of the expansion project to Kathryn Sharbaugh, FIA Development Director and John Henry, FIA Executive Director in the FIA Art School welding studio.

The existing 3,960-square-feet Art School exterior courtyard will be covered and converted into a multi-purpose studio makerspace for 3D art classes and public demonstrations, including hot glass blowing and bronze casting.

This flexible space will be equipped with retractable stadium style seating which will provide many options for demonstrations, workshops, classes and more. The primary focus will be hot glass making equipment including furnaces, annealing ovens and an adjacent cold shop for finishing. The space will also accommodate a metal foundry for casting bronze and aluminum. Audiences will be able to view on large mounted screens close ups of the artists working during demonstrations as well as hear narration during presentations. 

This dynamic space, easily accessible from both the museum and the school, will serve as a vibrant hub for three-dimensional art for visitors, students and guest artists. It will also function as a window into the processes behind the creation of glass objects on view in the galleries, expanding visitors’ understanding of works in the museum.

FIA 2016/17 Expansion Groundbreaking

Ridgway White and Bill White, President and CEO of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, espectively, join John Henry and FIA Board of Trustee members in the breaking ground of the expansion project. The C.S. Mott Foundation has awarded grant funds for the project.

A ceremonial groundbreaking and press conference was held on June 30, 2016, marking the beginning of an 18-month expansion project. Construction will bookend both the east and west sides of the existing building. 

In 2005 and 2006, architects Frederick Fisher and Partners from Los Angeles planned and completed an extensive, phased $20 million renovation and expansion of the FIA. Just four years ago they returned to design the addition of a welding lab and new kiln room on the Art School. To continue their practical design aesthetic, the architects have once again developed a beautiful, functional and cohesive plan.

On the east side, an 8,565 sq. ft. addition is being added to the permanent collection galleries creating the Contemporary Craft Wing. The wing will contain three distinct expansive galleries specifically designed for presentations of three dimensional works of art. High ceilings, with skylights will present a serene atmosphere and sophisticated backdrop for display of objects. Additional curatorial amenities include a large freight elevator providing access to a 5,900 sq. ft. lower level designed for art handling, preparation, crate storage, and a climatized vault. 

On the west side, the existing 3,960 sq. ft. Art School exterior courtyard is being converted into a year round “Makerspace.” This flexible space equipped with retractable stadium style seating will provide many options for public demonstrations, workshops, classes, and more. The primary focus will be the hot glass-making studio space equipped with furnaces, annealing ovens, and an adjacent cold shop for finishing. The space will also accommodate a metal foundry for casting bronze and aluminum. During demonstrations, electronic equipment designed specifically for the space will provide audiences with audio narration and enhanced views on large mounted screens. 

For more images and videos, go to and click on “Expansion News.”