The New York City-based Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has announced grants totaling nearly $9.4 million in support of efforts to reimagine and rebuild commemorative spaces that celebrate and affirm the contributions of diverse communities to U.S. history.
Part of a five-year, $250 million Monuments Project launched by the foundation in October, the grants will support five projects designed to educate the public about the nation’s shared collective past and help inform a more just future.
The five grantees and projects are:
1. Emmett Till Interpretive Center, “Preserving the Legacy of Emmett Till Through Expansion of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center” (Sumner, Mississippi): The grant will give $691,750 in operational funding to the Center to support racial healing efforts that include historic preservation, community building activities in the Mississippi Delta, and a year-long strategic planning process to coordinate the preservation of the Mamie and Emmett Till story across the Mississippi Delta and in Chicago.
2. Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), “Monumental Perspectives” (Los Angeles, California): The grant will provide $1.2 million over three years to support the curation, community engagement, and related public programming for LACMA’s collaboration with Snap Inc. to develop augmented-reality monuments and murals led by local artists and technologists.
The program is an effort to celebrate the region’s diversity and use AR technology to reflect the inclusive perspectives from local communities that are often untold.
The virtual monuments will be available to see through the Snapchat app.
The grant will also support the expansion of Monumental Perspectives to include additional artists in the coming years.
3. MASS Design Group, “Public Memory and Memorial Lab” (Boston, Massachusetts): The grant will provide $500,000 over two years to support research and work for organizations and individuals who seek to imagine, design, and build new monument projects across the nation.
MASS Design Group will provide direct support to organizations on projects that engage memorialization, collective memory, and truth-telling.
4. Prospect New Orleans, “Monuments: A Proposal” (New Orleans, Louisiana): The grant will provide $2 million over two years to support Prospect 5’s headlining artist commissions for the citywide art exhibition in 2021.
The exhibition will highlight monuments and their power to both create and complicate history, as well as new public works that engage how the city—still home to ten Confederate monuments—commemorates history.
5. Social and Public Art Resource Center, “The Great Wall of Los Angeles” (Los Angeles, California): The grant will provide $5 million over three years to support the preservation, activation, and expansion of one of the country’s largest monuments to interracial harmony through civic engagement and muralist training.
The grant will also support muralist Judy Baca’s Great Wall of Los Angeles and advance the work on the mural while also developing digital techniques and resources for future artists and enhance community engagement.
Mellon Foundation president Elizabeth Alexander, said: “Monuments and memorials powerfully shape our understanding of our country’s past and determine which narratives we honor and celebrate in the American story.”
Elizabeth added: “Future generations ought to inherit an inclusive commemorative landscape that elevates the visionary contributions and remarkable experiences of the many different communities that make up the United States. With these five grants, we are affirming our commitment to support organizations engaged in creating and contextualizing monuments and memorials that convey the extraordinary multiplicity of our complex history.”