Closing out a sensational 13-year run, Myrna Fuller will retire April 30, 2017, the culmination of a celebrated tenure as executive director for Hammonds House Museum in Atlanta’s historic West End. Fuller was vice chair of the Fulton County Arts Council at the time of the Hammonds House Museum’s opening in 1988; when her predecessor, Hammonds House founding executive director Ed Spriggs dedicated the museum to collecting, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting art of the African Diaspora and Africa, placing an emphasis is placed on education, artistic competence, embracing diversity through shared cultural journeys and fostering interactive dialogue to discover commonalities.
Born and raised in a small black, Italian and Jewish neighborhood of Princeton, N.J., Fuller was intimately familiar with cultural exchange – and the museum was a creative space for her to live out her blend of art and advocacy.
“The arts, especially visual arts, are special to me because I am a visual artist and graphic designer,” Fuller explained when being inducted in Atlanta Tribune’s Hall of Fame in 2014. “I know the power of the creative process personally and universally in our daily lives as a vehicle for communication, cognitive development, education and enjoyment. My passion for art to be used to activate alternative methods for everyone, especially young people, to be inspired, knowledgeable about the talents and histories of artists of African descent, and proficient in the academic subjects that are so important in today’s achievement measurement system.”
Before her executive directorship, Fuller developed a career mixture of ranking corporate and nonprofit positions, working at Eastern Airlines as management training instructor, in-flight manager, and area director of the Atlanta City Ticket Offices; art director with BBC Productions (later Acuity, Inc); managing director of the National Black Arts Festival; and executive director of the Atlanta Branch NAACP. She opened her own design firm, IView Graphics, in 2000.
Fuller’s involvement with the arts as a practitioner helped define her interests as a volunteer within the creative sector. She has served on the board of the Arts Festival of Atlanta, president of the Board of Hammonds House Museum, and is currently co-chair of the Arts Georgia Advisory Board, serving on the steering committees for United Arts Front and the citywide Soul of Philanthropy initiative.
Since taking the helm at Hammonds House Museum in 2004, Fuller has expanded programming and established several new important collaborations. She mounted more than 50 exhibitions, introducing Atlanta audiences to unfamiliar artists such as Tomas Easson and Ealy Mays, and reacquainting patrons with familiar, locally known artists such as Lillian Blades and Louis Delsarte. HHM’s annual exhibition schedule now includes an artist-in-residence, such as New Orleans printmaker Katrina Andry, whose work is currently on view. The 9th annual Atlanta Quilt Festival, a partnership with the Clara Ford Foundation and the South Fulton Arts Center, is a recurring exhibition staple.
Other components of HHM’s Permanent Collection have gained prominence through travel to the National Museum in Washington, DC; the High Museum of Art in Atlanta; Prospect 3 in New Orleans; Spelman College Museum, the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, and Emory University Michael C. Carlos Museum.
Important collaborations with the Wren’s Nest, the Atlanta Printmakers Studio and other organizations were developed to maximize program impact and variety — the newest partnership with Just Add Honey Tea Café brings added value to museum visitors seeking a unique space to enjoy fine art and culinary treats.
One of Fuller’s parting accomplishments is the renovation project that includes a new HVAC system, rebuilt front porch and roof, back steps, patio, and interior work to correct damaged or problem areas in the historic 150-year old facility.
“As only the second executive director in Hammond’s House almost 30-year history, Myrna has truly been an integral part of laying the foundation for Hammond’s House, remaining as an important center of cultural education for the metro-Atlanta region. Her commitment to this institution, and to the arts in general, is exemplary, inspiring and is a major part of what motivates me and my colleagues on the board to continue to roll up our sleeves to ensure the vibrancy and impact of this institution sustains itself for many years to come,” stated Imara Canady, Hammonds House Museum board president.
Fuller has been the stabilizing factor for the museum during economic downturns, administrative setbacks, and the challenges of minimal resources.
“The journey would not have been possible without talented creative artists, dedicated staff, caring patrons and, most important, the vision and great foundation formulated by the first Executive Director, Ed Spriggs,” says Fuller. “Having spent the last two months in transition with Interim Director Leatrice Ellzy, I am confident that the growth we’ve achieved over the last 13 years will serve as a strong foundation for Hammonds House Museum to reach new heights.” ADW