More than 40 art teachers from schools across the southeast toured the American Sport Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA) and gave it rave reviews.

The group affiliated with the National Art Education Association (NAEA) made the United States Sports Academy’s museum part of its cultural day during its four-day Southeastern Leadership Conference. Instructors came from Texas to Washington, D.C., and included NAEA president-elect Dennis Inhulsen.

More than 40 art teachers from across the Southeast recently visited the Academy's sport art museum.

Larry Gibson, Alabama Art Education Association president, says the stop at the sport art museum was a big hit for many of the art teachers. The teachers split into two groups receiving tours of the Sculpture Park by Fairhope, Ala., artist Bruce Larsen and of the museum by curator Robert Zimlich.

“I’ve always enjoyed that museum and it was a highlight of the trip,” Gibson says. “We are all big fans of Bruce Larsen now.”

Larsen, the Academy’s 2009 Sport Artist of the Year, has six sculptures made of recycled material in the university’s Sculpture Park.

In addition, the group visited artist Dean Mosher’s unique castle home in Fairhope, and did a tar paper art project at the Eastern Shore Art Center led by Nancy Raia, the center’s community outreach director and chairwoman of the Academy’s art committee.  The tar paper art project is designed to educate people about the effects of the BP oil spill on area coastlines along the Gulf of Mexico since 2010.

Raia, who helped organize the group’s tours, says the teachers peppered Larsen with questions about his art training and how he collects all of his metal scraps.

“They loved the Academy’s collection and really enjoyed meeting Bruce (Larsen) and hearing his stories,” she says. “Many of them really liked his sculpture of ‘Nastia the Gymnast.’”

Academy President and CEO Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich, who founded the sport art museum in 1984, was pleased to receive all the positive feedback from the group.

“They indicated they were very impressed with the art collection,” he says. “Then again, the collection gets stronger with each passing day.”

The museum, which is arguably the largest sport art collection in the world with nearly 1,700 pieces, is open free to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.