In 1960, the city of Wichita invited citizens to come together as a tax-exempt organization to raise money through memberships and other income-generating activities to help grow the Wichita Art Museum. WAMM, Inc. was formed and, in 1976, the name changed to the Friends of the Wichita Art Museum as it remains today.
FWAM grew to become the life of the museum and functioned as a volunteer arm which maintained an office in the museum and began the Research Library. A Volunteer Alliance directed annual membership drives, supplied professional librarian service, produced and financed a publication of a monthly museum newsletter, and a members' directory. FWAM also sponsored annual lectures, a Young at Art group, and domestic and foreign art tour programs. In addition, it sponsored a docent program under the direction of the museum’s Curator of Education, financed all exhibition preview receptions, social activities and special projects at the request of the Museum Director.
FWAM organized and operated a gift shop, a sales-rental gallery, and a restaurant. The Friends initiated a mobile gallery which traveled in a nine-county area of South Central Kansas exhibiting art to schools and communities, and established the annual Art, Book, and Craft Fair which generates $30,000 annually and continues as a major fundraising event today as the Art and Book Fair, now in its 55th year.