Mellon Diversity Grant Awarded to Tang Museum at Skidmore College
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a substantial grant to Skidmore College to seed a $1.2 million, three-year initiative to strengthen the ways the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery uses its collection to explore issues of identity and race, and to create new research resources and enhance public engagement with its collection both on campus and in the region. The grant from The Andrew Mellon Foundation totals $840,000, with the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation and Skidmore College providing $360,000 in matching funds. The initiative is a key part of the College’s commitment to diversity, integrative learning, and community engagement.
"We are extremely appreciative and grateful for the support that The Andrew Mellon Foundation is providing for this project,” said Skidmore College President Philip Glotzbach. "The Mellon Foundation has been enormously important to Skidmore over the years, and I believe this latest grant represents a significant step forward for the Tang Museum. The focus on diversity, access, and collections will bolster the work the College does to ensure that every Skidmore student develops the intercultural understanding and global awareness necessary to thrive in this complex and increasingly interconnected world."
The new funding will enable Skidmore students, faculty, and staff, as well as researchers and the public nationally and internationally to engage in new and innovative ways with the Tang Teaching Museum's growing collection. In particular, the initiative will allow for original scholarship on works of art that have been recently given to the Museum, by notable contemporary African American artists such as Nayland Blake, Willie Cole, Lorna Simpson, Kara Walker, and Carrie Mae Weems, as well as by other living artists of many identities working in various types of media.
“The Tang Museum’s collection is particularly strong in works of art that speak about race and identity—in the last five years, more than half our exhibitions focused on either diverse or traditionally underrepresented artists, such as our current survey of painter Alma Thomas,” said Ian Berry, Dayton Director of the Tang Museum. “We are excited to deepen the use of the collection to explore these ideas, realities, and questions, and this generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation makes that possible. A leading part of our mission is to foster inclusion and critical discussions through the arts, and we are continuing to grow both our collection and our programming to serve as a national model on this front.”
On campus, the initiative will include College faculty members working with Museum staff and students to develop new course content that crosses disciplinary lines and uses collection objects as the catalyst for conversations and innovative curricular development. Through this work in object-based learning, faculty and students will bring out the numerous connections between works of art in the collection and contemporary issues of critical importance. The Museum will also bring visiting artists and scholars to campus to engage with faculty, students, staff, and members of the broader community, through public events such as dialogues, workshops, performances, and exhibitions.
In addition to these programs, the project will allow for a range of other initiatives at the Museum, including a documentary and research project focusing on more than 1,500 works in the collection. This will lead to an enhanced digital archive for use by students, faculty, staff, scholars, researchers, and the public, allowing for rich experiences of the Museum's collection for people anywhere in the world.
For the project, the Tang will work with other institutions of higher education, such as the New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium and area community colleges, as well as area school districts and community groups that serve racially diverse populations in the region. This kind of educational work on multiple levels will allow the Museum to expand upon Skidmore's liberal arts mission with students from various backgrounds.