About Us

Vision – Artrain’s vision is that every person, classroom and community should have access to quality arts and cultural programs regardless of where they are located or their economic status.

Mission Artrain’s mission is to delivery discovery and – through the galvanizing power of arts and culture – transform lives, organizations and communities. Artrain serves as a community catalyst, utilizing cultural education and engagement to increase participation in and support for the arts. Artrain is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan; its programs have reached across the United States and Ontario, Canada.

Producing & Delivering Discovery Since 1971

Artrain’s mission is to deliver discovery and, through the power of arts and culture, transform lives, organizations and communities. With its award winning community building program at its core, Artrain  partners with artists and/or arts and cultural institutions to produce and deliver art-infused outreach programs of all types – art, culture, history, science, environment and more – to people in villages, towns and cities to expand personal horizons and strengthen local cultural infrastructure. Artrain defines community broadly: geographically or as people connected by common interests.

Originally delivering its programs on a museum-on-a-train that used America’s rail system, Artrain retired its rail museum in 2008. Today, Artrain uses a variety of delivery methods.

Since its founding in 1971, Artrain has helped start or strengthen hundreds of cultural organizations. In recognition of its legacy, in 2006 Artrain received the National Medal for Museum Service – the nation’s highest award for institutions that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities using that extraordinary and innovative approaches to community service.

Artrain has shared award-winning arts and cultural programs with millions of people during hundreds of community visits across the United States and Ontario, Canada. Countless individuals – from schoolchildren to grandparents – have experienced Artrain programs. Many have become art and creative practitioners, consumers, supporters, advocates and/or volunteers.

Artrain has taken its long-term commitment to strengthening arts and cultural nonprofits to a new level by offering general services, project management, administrative services and fiscals sponsorship services to worthwhile but vulnerable artistic or cultural programs that are not or may not need to be independent nonprofits.

History – In the late 1960s, a group of arts activists who believed that the arts should be available to everyone everywhere, came together to establish the Michigan Council for the Arts (MCA and now known as MCACA). Led by its first executive director, Mr. E. Ray Scott and its first chair, former Michigan First Lady Mrs. Helen Milliken, MCA had three goals in mind: to foster the development of local arts organizations throughout Michigan; to provide people in Michigan’s villages, towns and cities access to outstanding art programs and education and to build awareness for MCA. The flagship program was Artrain, a train converted into a museum that housed world-class art exhibitions and would travel to underserved Michigan communities for a couple of years and meet MCA’s three goals. Launched in 1971, during its first year, 191,000 visitors in 28 Michigan communities climbed onboard. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) took notice and asked Artrain to share its programs across the country. In 1973, Artrain headed out on its first national NEA-sponsored tour to eight states in the Rocky Mountains. Artrain didn’t stop there and in 1975, it became an independent nonprofit agency.

Now more than 45 years later, Artrain has shared award-winning exhibitions and many of the world’s greatest artists with millions of people during hundreds of community visits across the United States and, more recently, Canada. Artrain’s mission is to deliver discovery and – through the power of arts and culture – transform lives, organizations and communities. Countless individuals – from schoolchildren to grandparents – have experienced Artrain programs. Many have become art and creative practitioners, consumers, supporters, advocates and/or volunteers. Since its founding in 1971, Artrain has helped start or strengthen hundreds of cultural organizations. In recognition of its legacy, Artrain received the National Medal for Museum Service – the nation’s highest award for museums – in 2006.

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Get Involved

Artrain greatly appreciates that people want to help it serve its mission and reach its goals. Artrain offers a variety of ways for people to get involved. For more information about these opportunities please contact Deb Polich at deb.polich@artrain.org or by calling 734.747.8300.

Become a Board Member

Reflecting a mission that extends to communities large and small across the country, Artrain has a national board of directors, recruiting accomplished, influential and demographically diverse board members with a passion for Artrain’s mission. Artrain is currently undertaking the significant expansion of its organizational and programmatic reach by aligning its core competencies with the needs of communities and site-based cultural institutions. Board members are needed to continue our tradition of strong leadership, guide this transformation and foster awareness and networks of support while building upon a foundation of 40 years of experience.

Become a Volunteer or Intern

Interning or volunteering is a great way to get involved in what Artrain is doing. We look forward to meeting you soon! : If you live in the greater Ann Arbor, Michigan area and would like to learn more about volunteering or interning in the home office, please call us.