September 25, 2018

Spelman College Receives $5.4 Million Grant for Museum Diversity Initiative

ATLANTA, GEORGIA—Spelmen College has received a $5.4 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation to create the Atlanta University Center Collective for the Study of Art History and Curatorial Studies. The initiative seeks to diversify museum staff across the United States and establish the Atlanta University Center as a leading incubator of African-American museum professionals. The grant will also fund scholarships at Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University to support an art history major and curatorial studies minor hosted at the center.

The grant will allow Spelman College to devote more resources to its art history department and create a curatorial studies minor from its existing curatorial program. The initiative has already supported guest lectures and program outreach at the participating schools. The Atlanta University Center will begin enrolling students from Spelman, Morehouse, and Clark Atlanta University in fall 2019. Over the next five years, the grant will also fund an intensive summer program in museum studies for high school students, a public lecture series, internship and professional opportunities, scholarships, and new faculty.

“The Atlanta University Center has a rich history of excellence in the arts. Atlanta University was the home to the first art department at a historically Black college and university, and their Art Annuals event was one of the most prestigious exhibitions for black artists. The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art and Clark Atlanta University Art Museum are national treasures,” said Spelman president Mary Schmidt Campbel, Ph.D. “The Walton Family Foundation grants builds on this history. We applaud the foundation’s commitment to closing the diversity gap to ensure that leadership at the nation’s cultural institutions begins to reflect the shifting demographic profile of the communities they serve.”

According to a 2015 survey of art museums in the United States by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, only sixteen percent of museum leadership positions are held by minorities. Among art museum curators, only four percent are African American and three percent are Hispanic. Thirty-eight percent of the U.S. population identifies as Asian, Black, Hispanic, or multiracial.

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