When AMUM opened in 1981, it went by the name University Gallery. At that time our mission was to host temporary exhibitions. Over the years AMUM acquired the permanent collections it houses today—Egyptian antiquities, tradition-based African art and contemporary prints and drawings. In 1994 Memphis State University became the University of Memphis; The University Gallery Board voted to commemorate this change with one of it's own—a name change that reflects our transition to a collecting institution.
AMUM continues to host temporary exhibitions of contemporary art and culture alongside selections from our permanent collections. Since 1994, the visiting artist series has brought innovative contemporary projects to Memphis. Artists from the Mid-South, New York, Chicago, Great Britain, Germany, The Czech Republic, and Russia have designed site-based installations that include community and student participation. Egyptian antiquities and African art are exhibited in galleries dedicated to these collections.
Our collections of Egyptian antiquities and African art are exhibited in dedicated galleries and periodically updated with new themes. Students and scholars work with art, objects and archival materials from our diverse collections researching individual works and developing exhibitions. The 19th century to present-day print/drawing collection includes several strengths: the work of Samuel H. Crone, Carroll Cloar's lithographs, Épinal prints depicting Napoleon Bonaparte's life, Beth Van Hoesen's preparatory drawings and prints, and Andy Warhol's polaroids, prints and silk screens.