For Immediate Release

Grand Rapids Art Museum Announces Senior Leadership Team Promotions

Elly Barnette-Dawson appointed Deputy Director for Institutional Advancement and Christopher Bruce as Deputy Director for Art, Learning and Engagement

Grand Rapids, MI, August 4, 2022 — The Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) today announced two strategic promotions on its senior leadership team to advance its mission to connect people through art, creativity, and design.

GRAM has appointed Elly Barnette-Dawson as its Deputy Director for Institutional Advancement and Christopher Bruce as Deputy Director for Art, Learning and Engagement. The roles include new and expanded responsibilities and an organizational realignment that reflects systemic changes focused on deepening community engagement.

This change comes at an exciting time for the Grand Rapids Art Museum and our community,” commented Erin Gravelyn, President of the Board of Trustees. Elly and Christopher’s combined tenure has brought the Museum important growth in the strategic areas of philanthropy, education, and audience development. Their decades of non-profit experience and their enthusiasm for GRAM positions the Museum for future success in the next chapter of its over 100-year history.”

Dana Friis-Hansen, Director and CEO, added Elly and Christopher are both seasoned museum professionals, each with almost a decade of GRAM service and institutional history. Their promotions come at a pivotal moment at the Grand Rapids Art Museum as we embark on the first year of our ambitious five-year strategic plan.”

Elly Barnette-Dawson
Elly Barnette-Dawson joined GRAM in 2013 as Director of Advancement. Now Deputy Director for Institutional Advancement, Barnette-Dawson leads the museum programs of philanthropy, communications, membership, finance, and human resources. Additionally, she develops the strategy and direction for donor cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship through the areas of planned and annual giving, major gifts programs, and corporate and community partnerships. Barnette-Dawson has over twenty years of non-profit experience and is a member of the Art Museum Development Association (AMDA). Barnette-Dawson is a native of Pittsburgh and a graduate of Calvin College.

Christopher Bruce
Christopher Bruce joined the Grand Rapids Art Museum in January 2010 as an intern. He has served GRAM in many capacities, including Education Assistant for interpretation and special programs, Summer Art Camp Counselor, Studio Instructor, School Programs Manager, and Director of Learning and Creativity. As Deputy Director for Art, Learning and Engagement, Bruce provides creative leadership for the implementation of GRAM’s exhibitions, collection, educational programming, and audience engagement as an integrated practice and with a holistic approach for the visitor.

Bruce is the former president of the Michigan Art Education Association and a frequent presenter at state and national conventions. He is a graduate of the National Art Education Association’s School for Art Leaders and previously taught art in public schools at the high school level. He holds a BFA in art education and K‑12 certification with honors, as well as the Art Education Excellence Award from Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University.

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. Founded in 1910 as the Grand Rapids Art Association, GRAM has grown to include more than 6,000 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.

For museum hours and admission fees, call 616.831.1000 or visit