July 30, 2008

Ackland Museum Gets $1.25 Million

By The Herald-Sun, Durham, N.C.

Jul. 30--CHAPEL HILL -- The Ackland Art Museum has received $1.25 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to deepen and expand the museum's role in the education of university students.

The museum will use the funds to engage UNC scholars and students in research, publication, interpretation and creation of exhibitions from the Ackland collection; give students opportunities to learn about the substance and methodology of museum work; and introduce graduate teaching assistants and faculty to ways of using artworks to support teaching and learning strategies that apply across academic departments and disciplines.

The New York foundation's gift comes in the form of a $1 million challenge grant to establish an endowment to strengthen the curricular role of the museum's collections and programs and $250,000 in spendable funds for use over three years to support this endeavor while matching funds are raised.

"Carolina's relationship with the Mellon Foundation fuels many of our most adventurous and creative explorations in the humanities and fine arts," Chancellor Holden Thorp said. "This latest grant challenges the Ackland and the university community to make the work of the museum inseparable from the work of the faculty. We couldn't ask for an opportunity that better suits where we want to go in the integration of our public and academic programs."

In the past academic year, 6,858 undergraduate and graduate students from 78 different courses in 24 disciplines participated in curricular experiences at the Ackland. In recent years, activities have included specifically designed gallery classes, museum-related seminars and teaching exhibitions that have involved faculty and students working together to enrich the experiences of all museum visitors. Participants have included faculty and students in the arts, sciences and humanities.

"Over the past several years, the Ackland has established itself as a partner for faculty collaboration and student engagement," said Bernadette Gray-Little, executive vice chancellor and provost.

"This work is already having an impact on the academic agenda of the university through collaborative exhibitions, teaching and research. We are grateful that this generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will enable the Ackland to dramatically expand opportunities for collaboration with faculty and create new interpretive strategies and new courses that focus on and engage the Ackland collection."

While the Mellon funds will support the interaction of students and faculty with works of art in the Ackland collection, the research, publications and exhibitions that emerge from this work will have an impact on all of the Ackland's audiences.

Over the museum's 50-year history, the Ackland has presented hundreds of exhibitions that translate new research into material accessible to general audiences. In the past two years alone, the Ackland presented two major exhibitions involving faculty and students in both the exhibition concept and content: "Fashioning the Divine: South Asian Sculpture at the Ackland Art Museum" and "Picturing the World: Carolina's Celebrated Photojournalists."

"With this generous grant, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has moved goals that are our highest priority within reach," said Ackland Director Emily Kass. "The new endowment, when fully funded, will ensure that the museum can expand and maintain a high level of collaboration with our faculty partners."

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation program for art museums is designed to help institutions build and sustain their capacity to undertake serious scholarship on their permanent collections; to preserve these collections; and to share the results of their work with scholarly and other audiences. The foundation supports basic research intended to enable curators, conservators and other professionals to devote intensive study to the objects in their care and to make their knowledge and professional expertise available to others in new as well as more traditional ways.


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