From the Executive Director 

Recently a friend asked, “Why does the FIA collect the art it does? Why collect in some areas and not in others? Why doesn’t the FIA have a gallery full of ancient Greek sculptures like those in the Metropolitan in New York or sculptures by Bernini like those in the Borghese in Rome?” These are good questions that I’m sure have crossed other people’s minds.

Though the FIA’s history and circumstances are vastly different from the Met and the Borghese Gallery, what we have in common is that we, along with other museums around the world, were formed by benefactors who wanted to share works of art that gave them pleasure. There are instances where a museum collection has been amassed by a single donor, as in the case of the Borghese, but most museum collections are a composite of gifts made over time by many donors. Their gifts reveal their personal taste, interest, and intellect, and, as such, museums, including the Met and the Borghese can be seen as scrapbooks representing those who, over time, have made gifts of art or money for the purpose of creating or expanding a collection.

The FIA has been collecting works of art since its founding in 1928 and, of the 9,000 objects in the collection, today over 90% have been gifts. Fortunately, Flint, being the home of General Motors and its subsidiaries, had an impressive number of wealthy, well-traveled, and informed collectors who together formed the nucleus of a collection that has since attracted many others to give.

Thanks to collectors like Thelma Chrysler Foy (Chinese ceramics), her sister Bernice Chrysler Garbisch (American naive paintings), G. Mennen Williams (African sculptures), Richard Pohrt (Native American objects), Viola Bray (Renaissance and Baroque decorative arts), Dr. Robert and Deanna Harris Burger (contemporary ceramics), Jack Pierson (prints), the Whiting Foundation (19th-century European and American masterpieces), Mary Mallery Davis (modern masters), the Hurand family (contemporary sculpture), and Bill and Claire White and the Isabel Foundation (20th-century regional art and contemporary glass)—to name just a few—today we have a respectable collection representing aesthetic achievements from around the world and spanning five millennia. Many of their gifts are always on view in our collection galleries. Others are featured in special exhibitions (see pages 4, 5, and 8).

It is safe to say most museums have gaps in their collection, and it is a never-ending pursuit to fill those gaps. The FIA is no exception and, to that end, we keep our eye on artists, auctions, art galleries, and collectors. We create wish lists and cultivate relationships with scholars, artists, art dealers, potential donors, and other museums—all in an effort to add quality and depth to what we have to present to our visitors.

There will always be missing links, hidden treasures, discoveries of overlooked and underappreciated artists, and, of course, new creations by contemporary artists. Our goal is to refine our collections in order to further enhance the visitor’s experience as they stroll through the galleries contemplating a work of art’s meaning and relationship with other works, marveling at the artist’s virtuosity, and making connections between a work of art and their own personal experiences. 

Leaving a legacy of a gift to the collection or collection endowment is something anyone can do. If you’re interested in donating a work of art or funds to purchase one, I invite you to get in touch with us.

John Henry

Executive Director

John Henry has been the FIA's Director since July 1996, and holds an M.A. from the University of Mississippi in Art History and a B.F.A. from the University of South Carolina in sculpture.

He is a member of Rotary International and a member of numerous professional affiliations including the Board of Trustees of the Flint Classroom Support Fund, The Association of Art Museum Directors, American Association of Museums and the Midwest Museum Conference.

The Director is responsible for the administration of board policies and all museum operations.

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Officers & Trustees

The board of directors is the governing body of a nonprofit. Individuals who sit on the board are responsible for overseeing the organization’s activities. Board members meet periodically to discuss and vote on the affairs of the organization. At a minimum, an annual meeting must occur with all board members present. Additional meetings are likely to take place throughout the year so board members can discuss and make other necessary decisions. Board memberships are not set up to be permanent positions; most organizations have terms set up for board members, which typically fall between two and five years.

Elizabeth S. Murphy


Thomas B. Lillie

First Vice-President

Mark L. Lippincott

Second Vice-President

Elisabeth Saab


Martha Sanford


John Bracey

Eleanor E. Brownell


Ann K. Chan


James D. Draper

Founders Society President

Mona Hardas


Carol Hurand


Lynne Hurand


Raymond J. Kelly, III

FIA Rep to FCCC Board

Alan Klein


Jamile Trueba Lawand


Eureka McCormick


William H. Moeller


Jay N. Nelson


Karl A. Olmsted


Dr. Brenda Rogers-Grays


Michael Rucks


Mary Coe Ryan


Sharon A. Simeon


Patricia Spangler


Theresa A. Stephens-Lock


Tiffany Stolzenfeld


David T. Taylor

Gregory G. Viener


Jan Werschky


Shannon Easter White


Lynne A. Taft-Draper

FOMA President