A National Monument Audit Is Part of Mellon Foundation's Quarter-Billion Dollar Initiative to Reimagine and Rebuild Commemorative Spaces and Transform the Way History is Told in the United States

  • PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania
  • /
  • January 10, 2021

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Rumors of War © 2019 Kehinde Wiley. Used by permission. Presented by Times Square Arts in partnership with the Virginia Museum of Fine Art and Sean Kelly, New York. Photographer: Kylie Corwin for Kehinde Wiley.

Monument Lab got a transformative $4 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in October and has launched a National Monument Audit to assess the current monument landscape across the United States.

The grant, entitled Beyond the Pedestal: Tracing and Transforming America’s Monuments, supports the production of a definitive audit of the nation’s monuments; the opening of ten Monument Lab field research offices through $1 million of subgrants in 2021; and capacity for Monument Lab to hire its first full-time staff and develop significant art and justice initiatives. 

The grant is the first from a $250 million “Monuments Project” from the Mellon Foundation created “to transform the way our country’s histories are told in public spaces.”

“We are proud to launch our new Monuments Project with our first partner, Monument Lab, and to support their work to more deeply learn and vibrantly reimagine our public spaces to better reflect the rich multiplicity of American stories,” said Elizabeth Alexander, President of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. “Through Beyond the Pedestal, Monument Lab will generate critical, comprehensive research to understand the commemorative landscape as it is, and to seed what it could become. We are energized about the transformative possibility of their work.”

“Over the last decade, we have worked around the country with artists, educators, and public institutions who have been transforming the monument landscape,” said Paul Farber, Director of Monument Lab. “Thanks to this grant and meaningful relationship with the Mellon Foundation, we will expand our work making generational change in the ways art and history live in public.”

The first project supported by the grant is the National Monument Audit, which will assess the current monument landscape across the United States. The National Monument Audit draws on existing data on monuments from national, state, municipal, and publicly created sources. The Audit will contextualize the monuments within specific geographies and communities and create a concurrent dataset of reported protest activities tied to monuments.

The National Monument Audit will lead into a larger 2021 initiative that will subgrant a total of $1 million to create ten new Monument Lab field offices that will re-imagine monuments in cities, regions, and communities across the country.

[Read more on the image shown above, Kehinde Wiley's first monumental public sculpture Rumors of War seen in Times Square, New York, before installation at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2019.]

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