Mississippi—The Mississippi Museum of Art (MMA) has been awarded a $275,000 grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The grant was given in support of the MMA’s reinstallation of its permanent collection and the creation of accompanying public programming and publications that focus on the art and stories of Mississippi. The reinstalled permanent collection is scheduled to open on Saturday, June 29, 2019.
MMA’s collection of more than 5,500 objects has particular strength in American art from circa 1865 to the present day and comprises paintings, prints and drawings, textiles, photographs, sculpture, and multi-media works.
“With this generous grant, we have the opportunity to reinvigorate the narrative power of our permanent collection,” said MMA’s Curator of American Art and reinstallation project director Elizabeth Abston. “Art has this amazing potential to open up new dialogues that will allow us to delve into both historical and contemporary issues that affect Mississippians and the nation at large.”
In August, NEH announced the funding of 218 projects across the United States totaling $43.1 million in support of vital research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities. Three institutions in Mississippi were recipients of grants during NEH’s third and final round of funding for the fiscal year 2018: MMA, Delta State University, and the Historic DeSoto Foundation.
“This particular exhibition matters. Across the country, [NEH] has helped shape great art collections that include undeniably essential works, but those collections haven’t often told everybody’s story. What I really like, and what our staff liked about this exhibition is that [MMA] will use its permanent collection to tell the story of Mississippi in a way that is not only fascinating but complete with the stories of others.” said NEH Chairman Jon Peede.
From 2007 to 2017, the permanent collection exhibition, entitled The Mississippi Story, showcased Mississippi art and artists in a variety of media through four themes: Land, People, Daily Life, and Exporting Mississippi Culture.
The exhibition was de-installed for MMA’s acclaimed bicentennial exhibition, Picturing Mississippi: Land of Plenty, Pain, and Promise, that was on view from December 9, 2017, until July 8, 2018. During preparations for the bicentennial exhibition and throughout its presentation, MMA engaged in unvarnished explorations of Mississippi’s complicated history and identity and established its Center for Art and Public Exchange (CAPE). CAPE aims to bring nationally recognized artists, community members, and other partners together to examine the issues of equity, culture, and the state’s history through contemporary art.
The reimagining and reinstallation of the permanent collection will demonstrably reflect MMA’s deepened understanding of Mississippi’s identity and its place in the contemporary world.
“The Mississippi Museum of Art strives to live responsibly in its role as a presenter of objects and stories that reveal truths about Mississippi’s history, people, and places,” said Museum Director Betsy Bradley. “We are eager to seize the opportunity the NEH’s gift has granted us to redesign our permanent collection exhibition following such an enriching period of reflection and learning.”