In 1954, members of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) envisioned a venue to exhibit traveling art exhibitions, offer art classes for both children and adults and to provide meeting space for members of the community as well as a venue for lectures, films and other cultural presentations. Joining with others in the community who shared this vision, they formed the Pensacola Art Association.
When the City of Pensacola replaced the City Jail in 1954, the Pensacola Art Association sought to secure the building. The Spanish Revival structure was well-suited to become an arts center. The jail was already fireproof, secure and centrally located in Pensacola’s historic downtown district. The City agreed to lease the jail for $1 a year and the Art Association’s board members transformed the former jail cells into exhibition spaces. The Art Association (which became the Pensacola Museum of Art in1982) purchased the building in 1988.
Over the past 59 years, the Pensacola Museum of Art (PMA) has presented hundreds of exhibitions and thousands of educational opportunities, becoming the foundation for the visual arts in our community. As Pensacola continues to evolve as a dynamic cultural hub in Florida's Northwest region, the PMA plays an ever greater role in offering quality visual arts experiences and arts education, now serving nearly 100,000 patrons annually.