The Frist Art Museum: Bringing Together Art and Community

The Frist Art Museum in downtown Nashville hosts 12-15 rotating exhibitions annually from prestigious collections around the world – from local artists like Elise Kendrick to beloved children’s illustrator Beatrix Potter. It brings together members of the community and beyond to see art in new ways, transforming their understanding of each other and the world around them – right here in Nashville.

Founded by The Frist Foundation in 2001 and with continued funding, the Frist Art Museum has grown in ways that reflect its Nashville home and ensures it can keep opening doors to more and more members of the community. That means exploring art from all angles: like an Impressionist painting exhibition about food — where it comes from, how it connects us to one another, how it gets from one place to another and what that means for the environment or the economy.

But it’s not just about the art. With the foundation’s support, the Frist is transforming the traditional notion of what an art museum can be. Indeed, the Frist prides itself on being a hub for the creative community to come together, collaborate, reflect on their work and create something new. This vision is enhanced by the museum’s educational programs and outreach activities that bring the beauty of art to all Nashvillians – including training artists to teach in schools and community centers for older Americans; offering reduced admission for underserved Nashvillians like SNAP recipients and a large network of community partners; or producing innovative, interactive spaces like Martin ArtQuest, which offers art-making activities for all ages.

For Frist Art Museum Executive Director Seth Feman, this work is personal. Born and raised in Nashville, he recently returned to head up the museum after many years away from home and is constantly in awe of what the Frist has become. “When I left Nashville in 1997, I thought there was no path for an art person back to Nashville. But The Frist Foundation made it possible — transforming the old post office into a thriving museum and enlivening its mission. It’s nothing short of amazing. It takes a miracle to get something this big and with this much impact off the ground. Without the Foundation, none of this would be here, and we would never have been able to bring together the people we serve and the art of the world. It’s humbling and inspiring to see what is possible in my own hometown.”