Mississippi Museum of Art Awarded $1 Million in Grant Funding in Support of Expanded Academic Programming and an Upcoming Exhibition

  • JACKSON, Mississippi
  • /
  • October 08, 2019

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The Mississippi Museum of Art (the Museum) has been awarded a total of $1 million in grants by two of the country’s most prestigious private foundations, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has approved a grant of $750,000 to support the continuation and growth of the Museum’s role as an academic hub for museum studies, art history, and education for Tougaloo College, Belhaven University, Millsaps College, and Jackson State University students, with the shared long-term goal of increasing the number of local opportunities for young people to study and work in museum-related fields. The program supported by this grant from The Mellon Foundation will build on the Museum’s Arts and Civil Rights Initiative (ACRI), a two-year partnership between the Museum and Tougaloo College (the College), an HBCU founded in 1869 in Hinds County, Mississippi. ACRI was launched in May 2017, with funding from The Henry Luce Foundation.

Dr. Redell Hearn, who currently serves as the Curator of Art and Civil Rights for the Museum and College, will guide the expanded Initiative as the Museum’s new Curator of Academic Affairs.

“In addition to producing exhibitions and programs that foster community dialogue about civil rights issues, past and present, and increase our understanding of the influence of social causes on artists and the influence of artists on historical events, the Art and Civil Rights Initiative works to increase scholarship, teach students, and strengthen the relationship between these two institutions. I am so appreciative that The Mellon Foundation is giving us the opportunity to continue this work and broaden its scope to the benefit of a larger academic community,” said Dr. Hearn.

The expansion of the Museum’s academic programming will see the introduction of a Post-Baccalaureate Fellowship program. In recent weeks, the Museum’s existing Teaching Fellows Program―the first collaboration of the Museum and the four previously mentioned colleges and universities―received a substantial infusion of regional funding from both the AT&T Foundation and the Wells Fargo Foundation in the combined amount of $30,000. Teaching Fellows are undergraduate students who are extensively trained on the Museum’s permanent collection and ongoing exhibitions and act as guides for K-12 school group tours.

“It is thrilling to receive such substantial recognition and support from Mellon for the invaluable work that the Museum is doing to build these avenues of higher education for our students. Our board and staff are grateful to the Foundation for sharing its resources with us, and we are all excited to see the positive impact these projects have on our community as they come to fruition,” said Steve Edds, Chairman of the Mississippi Museum of Art’s Board of Trustees.

The Ford Foundation has awarded the Museum a $250,000 grant in support of programs and a soon-to-be-announced exhibition project that employ art to address issues of race and equity as outlined in the Museum’s new strategic plan. “Earlier this year, the Museum implemented a new strategic plan that expresses our vision to be a leader in engaging art, artists, and participants in the critical work of reckoning with the past and connecting with each other in the present. To realize this vision, we have committed ourselves to pursuing deep investigations into Mississippi’s cultural history and gaining new national partners who open avenues by which we can further explore the relationship between Mississippi and the world. We are so thankful to the Ford Foundation for generously providing the means through which these goals can begin to be accomplished,” said Betsy Bradley, Director of the Mississippi Museum of Art.


The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the Foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.


“The Museum has chosen a bold course in its mission to ensure that every visitor has the opportunity to see art and attend programs that honor diverse viewpoints, histories, and lived experiences. I think that art created as a result of the interaction and exchange between different races and cultures best reflects Mississippi because the hallmark of so many great works is that they are troubled yet triumphant. No place illustrates this dichotomy more than the state of Mississippi. We are eager to build new connections and lead challenging conversations that bring our community closer to a future without division, and ever grateful for organizations like Ford that offer such abundant support for our vision,” said Denise Owens, Vice Chairman of the Mississippi Museum of Art’s Board of Trustees.



The Mississippi Museum of Art, in Jackson, is the largest art museum in the state. The Mississippi Art Association, established in 1911, was the precursor to the current Museum, founded in 1978 as a community-supported institution. The Museum’s permanent collection includes paintings, photography, multimedia works, and sculpture by Mississippi, American, and international artists. The Museum offers year-round educational programs for both children and adults. The Museum has 31 affiliate sites across the state that benefit from the loan of artworks and traveling exhibitions organized by the Museum, ensuring that those who cannot visit Jackson can still enjoy the state’s rich cultural history. The Mississippi Museum of Art and its programs are sponsored in part by the City of Jackson and Visit Jackson. Support is also provided in part by funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, and in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. The Museum is located at 380 South Lamar Street in Jackson.

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