The University of Michigan Museum of Art’s bank account just got a big boost.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a private institution dedicated to promoting higher education and art history, among other pursuits, endowed UMMA with a $1 million grant to sustain programs that promote integration with the University’s academic community and student experience.
Among UMMA’s recent initiatives are the appointment of an academic coordinator and collections assistant and the creation of a History of Art Fellowship.
Last year alone, efforts by UMMA to increase student academic outreach resulted in a 95-percent increase in collection use and 13,000 students participating in the museum’s educational programs.
“We feel that UMMA has a really special role to play in the education of students here at Michigan,” said Carrie Throm, UMMA deputy director for development and external relations. “By exposing them to the art of the world that awaits them when they graduate, they will have a deeper understanding of all the possibilities in their professional world.”
The $1 million dollar grant is split between several initiatives.
The academic coordinator position will receive a $750,000 grant to continue efforts in collections-based education. The position will be endowed in perpetuity if UMMA can find a donor through the Victors for Michigan campaign to match the Mellon Foundation’s grant.
An academic coordinator allows UMMA to collaborate with other campus organizations to better integrate the art center with academic projects. Throm said current Academic Coordinator David Choberka has worked with many professors to broaden the curricular experience for their students.
The museum’s collections assistant and History of Art Fellowship will receive $250,000 to continue their work for three more years.
UMMA’s collections assistant works alongside the academic coordinator to encourage students to use the museum’s collections and initiate research projects. The assistant also builds relationships with other colleges and academic communities.
Throm said UMMA currently services 37 percent of University schools and programs and 34 percent of LSA departments.
The grant will also fund the History of Art Curatorial Research Fellowship, which allows a history of art doctoral student to work with museum collections in his or her academic specializations.
Throm said the fellowship provides doctoral students with a broader understanding of professions in the art history field.
“We have put the student experience at the top of our strategic planning process,” she said. “We really think about how the student experience is impacted by our work at the museum. While we serve a very important role in the community to people who aren’t students, we are affiliated with the University of Michigan and we have a lot to contribute to the academic mission of the University.”
An UMMA press release said the museum will also expand its focus in new fields of study, update records and increase its number of collections access requests.