South Bend Museum of Art activates community through three pillars SEE, BELONG, MAKE.

Our branding slogan – See, Belong, Make, Art – is both a clever inflection on our SBMA initials and the pillars of our core values.  

To See is to Look, Understand, be Curious.

To Belong requires Acceptance, Inclusivity, Openness in Community.  

To Make involves using our hands to Create and Invent. 

Art is our reason for being, at the center of our work and our practice. 

The South Bend Museum of Art affirms the enduring power of the visual arts to reflect and create community, engage minds, and nurture growth through exhibitions, collections and educational programs.

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Founded in 1947, the South Bend Museum of Art is the premier cultural destination for the community, providing insight into the art, history and culture of the region for almost 75 years, and will celebrate this major anniversary in 2022 with a new Director, a new outlook for growth, and a refreshed vision for the future.

Conceived by a local teacher, Carlotta Banta in her bequest to the city, the South Bend Art Association was created through efforts of local leaders and originally established in the carriage house of the Studebaker mansion.  The founding collection of works by Indiana artists was donated by Mr. and Mrs. E. M. Morris.  In the early 1970s, the museum, the city, and the arts council combined efforts to create the new Century Center on the banks of the St. Joseph River in downtown South Bend. SBMA occupies three levels in the northern wing of the building with spacious galleries and studios. The reinvisioned SBMA was accredited in 1987 by the American Alliance of Museums; that accreditation was renewed in 1999 and 2011.

SBMA is a world-class arts institution with deep roots in the community through exhibitions, programs, and studio arts classes. The brand identity tagline of See, Belong, Make, Art (SBMA) reinforces the museum’s commitment to displaying and creating art with inclusiveness and accessibility as cornerstones of its work. 

The collection is rich in regional art, from the nineteenth century to the present, and has long engaged with contemporary artists from Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Missouri.  The celebrated Biennial exhibition, now in its 31st iteration, brings together emerging regional artists working in a variety of media to showcase the vital role of creative practice in our world today.  The museum puts on several major exhibitions every year. SBMA has fostered generations of emerging and established artists of all ages. The SBMA ceramics studio is the largest and most professional facility in northern Indiana, attracting students from near and far to learn from excellent instructors. Classes are also offered in painting, drawing, jewelry-making, and more. SBMA programs for all–adults, children, and families–includes classes, summer camps, First Fridays, Meet Me on the Island (a partnership with WVPE 88.1), Best Week Ever (partnership with Downtown South Bend), and outreach programs in schools, community centers, and wellness organizations.

SBMA has an operating budget of $791k, a $3 million endowment, and is governed by a board of 34 trustees, representative of a cross section of community, civic, and business leaders.  The museum is operated by 12 staff members, in addition to contractual arrangements, teaching staff, and a team of dedicated volunteers.  The museum welcomes over 50,000 visitors each year (pre-pandemic), which includes over 3000 school children, 4000 individuals served by outreach, over 1000 class enrollments, 32,000 gallery visitors, and many more attending events.  The audience is representative of the diverse population of St. Joseph County.