The Springfield Museum of Art is using a grant from a national oragnization to expand its focus on art education and interactive art in the community.
Ann Fortescue, the museum’s executive director, said it has been working to renew its focus on art education within the community over the last year. The new grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, worth nearly $24,000, will allow the museum to continue to expand this focus much faster than before, she said.
“The grant will enable us to work on the successes we’ve seen this year and enable us to reach out and explore new collaborations and partnerships,” Fortescue said. “The grant will enable us to broaden our work so that we will be able to reach out and work with more community audiences than if we didn’t have it.”
The project, called “It’s Your Art Museum — A Model for Community Involvement,” involves interactive exhibits and works with groups outside of the museum. The grant will fund these efforts, Fortescue said, and allow the museum to have a part-time museum educator.
Additionally, the grant allows for programs that train and encourage project volunteers, as well as involve local artists in the project.
“Through the grant, we’ll work with local artists to create interactive exhibits for visitors,” she said. “The purpose is to deeply engage visitors in some way with the art in these exhibits.”
The national Museums for America grant program is based on a peer review system. The reviewers are individuals, knowledgeable in museum work, who work in groups of three to review each application. Grants are awarded based upon their recommendations, said Christopher Reich, the group’s senior museum advisor.
“The program is intended to help museums improve their services to their audiences,” he said. “The grant is a great way to help museums create diverse experiences for their audiences.”
Of the 554 applicants, the Springfield Museum of Art was one of only 193 to receive a grant, Fortescue said. It is not the only museum to have this kind of program, she said, but the grant will allow the museum to benefit its specific community and share work with others.
“We were exuberant that we’d received both professional recognition and the grant award,” she said. “(We were) pleasantly stunned by the surprise, but very, very deeply pleased and encouraged to keep the project going.”