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Williams College Museum of Art Receives $250,000 in Grants to Support the Museum and its Exhibition Program

For immediate release: September 1, 2009

The Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) has been awarded two grants, one from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and one from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. With the funding from these grants, WCMA will continue to engage museum visitors in new and innovative ways with its collection of over 13,000 objects and exhibitions that connect to an array of audiences. The museum will continue to build upon its core mission to encourage multidisciplinary teaching through encounters with art objects that traverse time periods and cultures.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded WCMA a $150,000 “Museums for America” grant to support the museum in its efforts to digitally photograph and archive 20 percent of its permanent collection. The works selected for photography are fragile and ancient and include objects from the Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek, Roman, Syrian, Byzantine, Mesopotamian, Meso-American, Chinese, Japanese, Asian, and Indian collections. Once these works are photographed, the images will be made available through the museum’s website to give regional faculty, students, K-12 educators, and the general public greater access to the museum’s collection.

Lisa Corrin, WCMA’s Class of 1956 Director states, “At any given time two percent of the museum’s 13,000 objects are on view. Although Williams students and faculty members can access works of art using the Rose Study Gallery, digitization will allow even greater access to the museum’s resources – not only for the Williams community but for anyone who wishes to learn about the collection. This is the first step toward the museum’s long-term goal of eventually photographing the entire collection and making these images available online.”

Museums for America is IMLS’s largest grant program for museums, providing more than $17 million in grants to support the role of museums in American society to sustain cultural heritage, to support lifelong learning; and to be centers of community engagement. Museums for America grants strengthen a museum’s ability to serve the public more effectively by supporting high-priority activities that advance the institution’s mission and strategic goals.

“As repositories of our nation’s treasures and our nation’s history, museums are positioned to play an integral role in the education of their communities. Museums for America grants support projects and ongoing activities that build museums’ capacities and help these institutions serve their diverse constituencies to the best of their abilities,” explains Dr. Anne-Imelda M. Radice, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Museums for America funding supports projects and activities, designed by the institution, that strengthen museums as active resources for lifelong learning and key players in the establishment of livable communities.

The IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support; and support professional development. To learn more about the IMLS, please visit www.imls.gov.

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

WCMA has been awarded a grant of $100,000 from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to support the production of a fully illustrated, 192 page, bilingual catalogue (published in both English and Spanish) and implement educational programs for Asco: Elite of the Obscure, an upcoming exhibition opening in Spring 2012. Organized in collaboration with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), this exhibition will be the first retrospective to present the wide-ranging work of the Chicano performance and conceptual art group Asco. The exhibition is being curated by Williams professor C. Ondine Chavoya and LACMA curator Rita Gonzalez.

Asco (1971-1987) began as a tight-knit core group of artists from East Los Angeles including Harry Gamboa Jr., Gronk, Willie Heròn, and Patssi Valdez. Taking their name from the forceful word for disgust and nausea in Spanish, Asco set about through performance, public art, and multimedia to respond to a particularly turbulent socio-political period in Los Angeles. Creating art by any means necessary, often using their bodies and guerilla tactics, Asco merged activism and performance and, in the process, pushed the boundaries of Chicano art.

“Asco played a central role in the art of their generation that has yet to be integrated into the history of conceptual art of the 1970s and 1980s. We are grateful to the Andy Warhol Foundation for their support of this exhibition, which will provide an opportunity to rethink the conventional categories and assumed connections associated with Los Angeles art, 1970s body art, political art, minority art, and Chicano art,” notes Lisa Corrin.

The primary focus of the Andy Warhol Foundation’s grant making activity has been to support the creation, presentation, and documentation of contemporary visual art, particularly work that is experimental, under-recognized, or challenging in nature.  The program has been both pro-active in its approach to the field of cultural philanthropy and responsive to the changing needs of artists.  A strong commitment to freedom of artistic expression led the Andy Warhol Foundation to play an active advocacy role for artists during the culture wars of the 1990s and continues to inform its support of organizations that fight censorship, protect artists’ rights, and defend their access to evolving technologies in the digital age. To learn more about the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, please visit www.warholfoundation.org.