Charity Spotlight: Lansing Art Gallery

Expanding love of the visual arts through public exhibits and education.

The Lansing Art Gallery expands appreciation for the visual arts by providing a permanent location for art exhibits and educational programs that are open to the public. The gallery also promotes Michigan artists and craftspeople by providing a place where their works can be purchased.

In this charity spotlight, I spoke with the Executive Director of the Lansing Art Gallery, Barb Whitney.

Origin Story

Lansing had an active art scene in the early 1960s, but there were no community art galleries in the area. For many Lansing Art Guild members and artists, this was a serious barrier that prevented art from being accessible to Lansing residents, but it was a barrier that they could remove. They set to work cleaning and renovating a barn that could be used as a weekend art gallery.

In 1965, Judith Leepa founded the Lansing Art Gallery. Later that year they held their first exhibition.

Since then, the gallery has grown and moved into more and more central locations. In 2010 the gallery moved to its current location, only a block from the Michigan State Capitol, where it continues to remain open and free to the public.


The exhibits begin even before entering the gallery. There are public art exhibits in and around Lansing and the outside of the gallery itself is artistically decorated. The moment you step across the gallery’s threshold you will be surrounded by art. The main exhibition space is a large, open area that sees new art every four to eight weeks.

In addition to school programs, Lansing Art Gallery also offers art camps, Girl Scout workshops, and an art scholarship competition. For adults, there are also Art and Ale sessions hosted at Midtown Brewing Company.

The Lansing Art Gallery also has a gallery shop where visitors can buy or lease Michigan-made jewelry, sculptures, paintings, pottery, and other crafts in a variety of styles.

Big Wins

In 2015, the Lansing Art Gallery celebrated its 50th anniversary. Hitting this milestone was huge, and the gallery saw increased engagement in every program that they offer. Membership also more than doubled over the past year and a half.

For Nonprofits

If you are starting a nonprofit or establishing a board, seek out a diverse, passionate group of people to fill those roles. Think about areas where you need the most help or better representation and build your board around them. Skills such as legal, accounting, education, and marketing are extremely valuable to charities. It’s also important to consider the demographics and communities that your organization appeal to like age, gender, race, LGBT, and so on.


The Lansing Art Gallery is always looking to expand their outreach and enrichment programs. One such program that will be introduced in 2016 is Creative Haven. This program will provide art education to homeless and low-income families in Lansing through a partnership with Haven House.

For Volunteers

Volunteers are the backbone of charitable organizations. Most nonprofits are great at leveraging the strengths of their volunteers and also have lots of practice organizing volunteer work. If there is a cause or charity you love and want to help, just do it!

Get Involved

If you want to learn more about the Lansing Art Gallery, you can reach them by clicking one of the buttons below.

Photographs courtesy of Ian Kast and Lansing Art Gallery.