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Mellon Grant Boosts Museum Studies Program

Summer Institute for Art Museum Studies (SIAMS) at Smith College recently received a $400,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The grant will be used over the next four years to provide increased financial assistance to its participants and pay for many operating expenses.

“This grant enables us to offer more tuition support to needy students. We will be able to accept the very best applicants, regardless of their financial situation,” says SIAMS Director Suzannah Fabing, who is the former director of the Smith College Museum of Art.

In addition, says Fabing, the Mellon grant will support faculty salaries, field trips to museums throughout New England and in New York City, and an exhibition in the Smith College Museum of Art mounted by SIAMS students.

SIAMS began last summer as a six-week program designed to introduce students to all the aspects of operating a museum. The program comprises classroom instruction, day and overnight trips to museums, conversation with museum professionals, and hands-on education by Smith College museum staff. The culmination of the program is an exhibition that is curated, designed and organized by SIAMS students.

“I know of no other summer program of this kind aimed at undergraduates,” Fabing says. “In a compact span of time, it covers much of the material typically offered in a two-year graduate program in museum studies.”

Fabing declared the inagural 2006 session a success and says that in coming years she expects the program to become well established and widely known. The 2007 session welcomed 15 participants—including three Smith students— who received certificates for completing the program in late July. The exhibition created by 2007 SIAMS students was titled “The World Is Still Flat: Landscapes on Paper.” For more on the exhibit and the SIAMS graduation, go to

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