Dana Friis-Hansen, Director and CEO of the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM), announced the promotion of Christopher Bruce to Director of Learning and Creativity from his previously held position of School Programs Manager. The full-time responsibilities of his position started January 2, 2017.
Friis-Hansen stated, “We are excited to appoint a talented arts educator with six years of institutional and community knowledge to lead GRAM’s initiatives in the creation of exceptional art and learning experiences. With the Museum’s newly-adopted Vision 2021 strategic plan, we are embracing a new mission: connecting people through art, creativity, and design. In recognition of this revised focus, the department name has been changed from Learning and Audience Engagement to Learning and Creativity.”
A Michigan native and graduate of Kendall College of Art and Design’s art education program, Christopher joined the Museum in May 2010, and has played a fundamental role in shaping and expanding GRAM’s school programs since. He has led strategic initiatives with Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) and Ottawa Area Intermediate School District (OAISD), including Language Artists, GRAM’s nationally-recognized arts and literacy program for third graders. This significant partnership—led by Christopher in collaboration with GRPS and eight other area districts—develops strong writing skills and 21st century learning skills such as creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication.
During his time as School Programs Manager, Christopher has shown a primary commitment to enhancing learning opportunities for educators and students. GRAM and OAISD have partnered in engaging these groups through futurePREP’d, a unique teachers’ professional development program, and a series of week-long GRAM student residencies for elementary, middle school, and high school students.
GRAM Board President Tammy Bailey commented, “The Trustees join me in congratulating Christopher on this well deserved promotion. Since starting at GRAM as an intern from Kendall College of Art and Design, his responsibilities and impact have expanded and greatly contributed to the national recognition GRAM has earned within the field of art museum education. We are thrilled to have Christopher’s leadership and for him to augment the Museum’s driving focus on bringing people together through engaging learning experiences with art, creativity, and design.”
Christopher is active in several regional and national professional organizations. He is President-elect of the Michigan Art Education Association, and has previously served as the 2015 conference co-chair and membership chair. As part of the National Art Education Association, he has served as a representative at the National Leadership Conference, a national conference presenter, and as a national convention session peer reviewer. Additionally, he was selected to participate in their 2015 School for Arts Leaders held at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Bruce stated, “Over the past six years I’ve had the pleasure of participating in the growth and evolution of not only the education department, but of the Museum as a whole. We’ve expanded our reach and focus to engage and serve the community—and this trend is certain to continue as we move into GRAM’s next chapter. I cannot begin to describe my excitement for what the future holds, including the programs we will launch, the relationships we will build, and the people that we will connect to through experiences only GRAM can create.”
Christopher assumes his post in the same month that the Grand Rapids Art Museum’s newly adopted 5-year strategic plan begins. With its mission of connecting people through art, creativity, and design, Bruce’s position as Director of Learning and Creativity will play an invaluable role in leading the Museum’s strategic and educational initiatives forward.
About the Grand Rapids Art Museum
Connecting people through art, creativity, and design. Established in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, the Art Museum is internationally known for its distinguished design and LEED® Gold certified status. Established in 1910 as the Grand Rapids Art Association, GRAM has grown to include more than 5,000 works of art, including American and European 19th and 20th century painting and sculpture and more than 3,000 works on paper. Embracing the city’s legacy as a leading center of design and manufacturing, GRAM has a growing collection in the area of design and modern craft.