NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – The Smith College Museum of Art recently received a $1 million endowment challenge grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that, when combined with $1 million in matching funds to be raised during the next three years, will increase the museum’s capacity to enrich the college’s academic program.
In order to enable the museum to move ahead with its plans to develop new programs and hire staff, the Foundation awarded an additional $215,000 for immediate use.
The grant was awarded under the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s College and University Art Museum Program, established in 1990. It is one of a series of grants awarded to institutions throughout the United States that house important museum collections and it is the second Mellon challenge grant received by the Smith College Museum of Art.
The initial endowment challenge also supports faculty initiatives that integrate the museum’s collection into courses and research. Within the past several years, faculty members have developed 32 courses based on museum holdings in such diverse disciplines as chemistry, dance and philosophy. Last year alone, five academic courses were taught entirely at the museum.
“This program has been highly effective in encouraging a rich and creative use of the museum’s collection in teaching and in building fruitful working relationships between faculty members and the museum staff,” said Jessica F. Nicoll, director and chief curator of the Smith College Museum of Art.
Widely acknowledged as one of the most important art collections at an American liberal arts college, the Smith College Museum of Art holds more than 23,000 works of art, with particular emphasis on modern paintings, sculpture, works on paper, antiquities, decorative arts, and emerging collections of African, Asian and Islamic art.
Since its establishment in 1879 as a contemporary American collection, Smith’s museum holdings have served as an important teaching tool as well as a significant public and scholarly resource. More than 40,000 people of all ages visit the Smith College Museum of Art every year. The museum re-opened to the public on April 27, 2003, following a three-year renovation and expansion.