Washington, DC, USA — Museums Connect announced 11 grants for the 2013 cycle, including projects in countries new to the program. Now in its sixth year, Museums Connect is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the American Alliance of Museums (the Alliance). Museums Connect pairs museums in the United States with museums abroad for a cross-cultural exchange that brings people, especially youth, together to open a dialogue through community projects, partnerships with local or tribal governments and schools, and local events. The 11 projects represent the largest number of grants awarded in a single Museums Connect cycle.
The mission of Museums Connect is to build global communities through partnership, collaboration and cross-cultural exchanges, linking the respective museums with communities both abroad and locally, while also supporting U.S. foreign policy goals such as youth empowerment and promoting disability rights.
“Museums Connect helps us link communities together across continents around topics that matter,” said Ann Stock, assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs. “By working with museums, we empower local communities to build understanding across cultures that go beyond formal diplomatic relations to find common ground through people-to-people exchange.”
Alliance president Ford W. Bell said, “Museums Connect is an initiative that showcases museums at their best – serving communities, building bridges between cultures and fostering the understanding between U.S. citizens and their counterparts abroad that can change world views.”
Since its inception, Museums Connect has linked American museums in 23 states, plus the District of Columbia, with partners abroad in more than 40 countries, including Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Mexico, Kenya and Morocco, among others. The program is excited to announce that it is now accepting applications for the 2014 cycle to further extend the program’s reach.
This cycle’s grantees embrace the discipline and geographic diversity that is the signature of Museums Connect. Locations in 2013 that are new to the program include Brazil, Egypt, Malaysia, Nigeria, the Palestinian Territories, Peru, Samoa and Spain. Below are brief summaries of these latest projects; further information can be found at www.aam-us.org/museumsconnect:
Ancient Shores, Changing Tides – Developing Local Archaeological Heritage Expertise
Palawan State University Museum, Palawan, Philippines
Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, Seattle, WA
Local residents work together to develop resources to protect their fragile marine environments, preserve their archaeological heritage and revitalize traditional cultural practices while exploring methods for sustainable tourism.
Citizenship Unbound: Flag Stories
Islamic Art Museum of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
SOMArts Cultural Center, San Francisco, CA
Youth from Muslim, intercultural, refugee and immigrant communities in Kuala Lumpur and San Francisco interpret flags and cultural insignia through hands-on art production and storytelling; create new visual and multimedia representations of national, personal and cultural identity; and present public artworks in target community locations.
Common Ground: Connecting Communities through Gardens
Egyptian Agricultural Museum, Giza, Egypt
Monterey County Agricultural and Rural Life Museum, King City, CA
Museums in Egypt and California partner with local community organizations to craft a cross-cultural garden curriculum for elementary school students. Participating youth share their insights and experiences across borders as they design gardens that reflect ancient Egyptian traditions in organic gardening as well as the Salinas Valley’s innovative approaches to sustainable agriculture.
Design Diaries International
Palestinian Heritage Museum, East Jerusalem, Palestinian Territories
Minnesota Historical Society, Saint Paul, MN
Young women representing diverse populations in the Palestinian Territories and Minnesota’s Twin Cities investigate the subtext of clothing in their regions and reflect on their museums’ rich textile collections along with historical context provided by older generations to design garments that reflect their unique identities. Using their knowledge and designs, they dialogue with their partners about the meaning of clothing in their lives and how it shapes their personal, and even national, identities.
emPOWER Parents: Fostering Cross Cultural Networks between Families with Autism
Museo ICO, Madrid, Spain
Queens Museum of Art, Queens, NY
Museums in Madrid and Queens support the creation of a bi-national network of parent advocates, giving parents of children with autism the resources to affect institutionalized change in both countries, request improved programming in schools and include their children’s learning styles in community programs. Participating parents gain skills in teaching and behavioral methods, lead programs with other local families and maintain and disseminate resources in both English and Spanish to share their knowledge with a global audience.
Sicán National Museum, Ferreñafe, Peru
Zoological Society of San Diego, San Diego, CA
Working with Three Mountain Alliance, Līhu’e, HI
Communities in Peru and Hawaii build ecological literacy, cultural knowledge and environmental stewardship using a new model for conservation education in a network of schools that demonstrate a commitment to environmental action and to developing students’ understanding of conservation in a global, multicultural context.
From the Ground Up: Nutritional Values and Cultural Connections
Gidan Makama Museum Kano, Kano, Nigeria
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Pittsburgh, PA
High school students learn about nutrition, cooking and cultural food traditions by following local food from farm to table and creating recipe books that reflect the traditional recipes of their regions and cultures.
A Journey through the African Diaspora
Museu Afro-Brasil, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Prince George’s African American Museum & Cultural Center, North Brentwood, MD
In celebration and exploration of the African American experience throughout the Americas, teams of high school students, teacher liaisons and teaching artists compare and contrast the history and impact of the African diaspora in Sao Paulo and Maryland’s Prince George’s County and collaborate on mural projects and exhibits in each location to showcase their findings in their communities.
Re:building Home: Climate Change in New York and Samoa
Museum of Samoa, Apia, Samoa
American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY
Residents from both regions with homes in coastal areas impacted by hurricanes share their personal and community experiences through in-person dialogue sessions and virtual conversations to produce an online exhibition, a mobile app and cross-cultural educational resources to better adapt to changing weather patterns and manage the impact and resources in the aftermath of severe storms.
Scaling the Walls/Escalando Paredes: Creating Urban Green Spaces
Interactive Science Museum, Quito, Ecuador
Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Teenagers in Quito and Pittsburgh explore the environmental, social and economic impacts of food systems on local and global communities to consider solutions to the health and environmental challenges facing their crowded, urban neighborhoods and create easily implemented designs for planters that can host edibles for residents with little access to fresh food or green spaces.
Turning the Table: Understanding Cross-Cultural Movements
Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Ateneo de Yucatán, Mérida, Mexico
Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, San Antonio, TX
Using tables as a metaphor for bringing people and cultures together—whether to eat, create or resolve differences—high school students from Mérida, Mexico and San Antonio along with local artists explore their communities’ cultural movements and adaptations over time through community meetings and workshops as well as oral history collection and present their artistic interpretations of community change through local and virtual exhibitions.