Seth Feman headshot

January 2023

When I first sat down to write this letter, I intended to discuss the theme of wonder—a topic very much on my mind since arriving in Nashville to join the team at the Frist Art Museum. Since day one here, wonder has appeared at every turn in delightful and often unexpected encounters. Simply witnessing other people’s wonder has often sparked my own sense of awe. During the run of Knights in Armor, I saw a little guy cut loose from his mother in the Martin ArtQuest Gallery and bolt down the hall toward the exhibition. He came to a screeching halt when confronted by a glittering suit of armor, letting out wide-eyed “WOW!” At the Frist, wonder abounds.

While penning these meditations on wonder, I took a break to attend the annual Frist Volunteer Recognition Party, where I experienced an entirely new sense of amazement. Decked out with flowers, adorned with a cornucopia of food, and sparkling with good cheer, the festive setting and mood offered plenty to marvel at. Yet a true sense of wonder—that feeling of surprise when the familiar gives way to something unexpected—struck me profoundly when I realized the enormity of support the Frist receives from our devoted Nashville community.

Volunteers support the museum by sharing their time, knowledge, and deep commitment with every person who enters the building. Walking arm in arm with our Guest Services staff, educators, and guards, they hold open doors, point the way to the restrooms, help parents talk to their kids about works of art, and guide visitors making beloved creations in ArtQuest. During the last five years, our volunteers have clocked in an average of 18,636 hours of service annually, which amounts to a whopping $2.5 million in service value over the five-year period. Often when you visit the museum, the first person you will encounter is a volunteer. They serve as our front line and are ambassadors of our hospitable brand. They are, in a word, amazing.

This season, when you visit the museum to see the contemporary works by Jeffrey Gibson and Otobong Nkanga, participate in a workshop, or take in a talk or tour, be sure to join me in thanking our volunteers for their extraordinary service to the Frist Art Museum and the entire Nashville community. We may marvel at the soaring lines and shining marble of our extraordinary art deco building or the glorious works of art in our galleries, but our volunteers are at the heart of everything that makes the Frist wonderful.

In gratitude,
Seth Feman, PhD
Executive Director and CEO


May 2022

I am thrilled to join the incredible team at the Frist Art Museum, and I look forward to collaborating with the talented, mission-driven staff, devoted board, and supportive community in Nashville. Together, we will continue to ensure the Frist is a vibrant source of inspiration and meaningful connection for people throughout the region and beyond.

With a deep appreciation for the city’s culture and ambition, I have long admired how the Frist has developed its exhibitions and programs to enable visitors to experience a diversity of cultures from around the world and work by artists from the region. Over the years, I have had the great fortune of collaborating with the excellent staff at the Frist on planning touring exhibitions, and I am consistently inspired by the team’s collegiality, creativity, and drive. This opportunity is the fulfillment of a long-term dream. I am profoundly honored and elated to come home to serve a community and state that I love.

Seth Feman, PhD
Executive Director and CEO

Please consider supporting the Frist Art Museum with a donation. Your gift is essential to our mission of serving the community through the arts and art access in particular. We truly appreciate your generosity.