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The Unisphere outside the Queens Museum in New York.
The Unisphere outside the Queens Museum in New York.

Mellon Foundation Distributes $24 Million Across Twelve Midsize Museums

A dozen midsize US institutions are in line to receive a financial boost from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Art Museum Futures Fund. The new fund is meant to help arts organizations survive the continuing Covid-19 pandemic. Twenty-four million dollars will be awarded to midsize museums in the first round of funding, in amounts ranging from $500,000 to $5.5 million. A second round will take place in early fall, focusing on small institutions, each of which will receive up to $3 million.

The twelve institutions receiving first-round Art Museum Futures Fund grants are the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco; Brooklyn Museum, New York; El Museo del Barrio New York; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boson; McNay Art Museum, San Antonio; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Nevada Museum of Art, Reno; Oakland Museum of California; Pérez Art Museum, Miami; Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma; Queens Museum, New York; and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York.

“Despite relatively small budgets, lean staffs, and minimal endowments, these institutions often punch above their weight,” said Mellon Foundation program officer Deborah Cullen-Morales in a statement. “These institutions care for diverse and distinctive art collections. We are committed to lifting this work.”

Earlier this summer, the American Alliance of Museums released a report predicting that some 12,000 US museums—one-third of the country’s institutions—would be forced to close permanently as a result of the pandemic, with AAM president Laura Lott citing contributions from private and public sources as necessary for the preservation of the institutions.

“Cultural organizations like these small and midsized art museums are essential to the vibrancy of their communities and they are experiencing unprecedented financial vulnerability as a result of the pandemic,” acknowledged Mellon Foundation president Elizabeth Alexander in a statement. “We are determined to safeguard these institutions at this time of national crisis, and we believe firmly in their mission to protect and preserve the visionary voices and transformative histories of their communities.”

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