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$2.5M grant presented to MDAH for educational outreach expansion

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A $2.5 million grant has been awarded to the Foundation for Mississippi History for the development of religious topics at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH).

On Wednesday, the Lilly Endowment presented the grant to MDAH Director Katie Blount and Foundation for Mississippi History board member Mike Espy. Lilly Endowment made the grant through its Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative, a nationwide effort to help museums and other cultural institutions improve the public understanding of religion.

The grant will serve as monetary aid to support and promote an understanding of the role of religion throughout the state’s history and culture at the Two Mississippi Museums. Through the grant, the Two Mississippi Museums will begin offering free group tours this summer to faith-affiliated communities in Mississippi—groups who attend churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, house churches, and more.

“We are grateful to Lilly Endowment for this major support,” said MDAH director Katie Blount. “The foundation’s generosity will help more Mississippians experience these museums. Building an endowment to underwrite field trips for Mississippi students was paramount to our initial vision. With the recent passage of the five-year anniversary of the Two Museums, Lilly Endowment helps to build on that momentum and expand our educational outreach.”

At this time, the agency also intends to invest in capital improvements at Historic Jefferson College near Natchez and at the Huddleston Memorial Chapel at Natchez College, a historically Black college open from 1884 to 1989. In addition, the grant will make MDAH’s archival collections related to religion more accessible to the public.

“Museums and cultural institutions are trusted organizations and play an important role in teaching the American public about the world around them,” said Christopher Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “These organizations will use the grants to help visitors understand and appreciate the significant impact religion has had and continues to have on society in the United States and around the globe. Our hope is that these efforts will promote greater knowledge about and respect for people of diverse religious traditions.”

MDAH is one of sixteen organizations from across the United States receiving grants through the latest round of the initiative. The Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative began in 2019 with an initial group of eighteen grants. The group includes fine arts museums, historical societies and history museums, libraries, historic sites, museums dedicated to serving children and families and museums dedicated to particular geographic locations and cultures.

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