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The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awards $300,000 for research of African art to Princeton University

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awards $300,000 for research of African art to Princeton University

Above: Wood, glass beads, horse tail, and thread 36.8 × 17.8 × 49.5 cm (14 1/2 × 7 × 19 1/2 in.)
Gift from the Holly and David Ross Collection 2016-102

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Princeton University a grant of $300,000 to support three years of specialist research in targeted areas of the collections as part of the Art Museum’s multiyear Collections Discovery Initiative. The grant allows the Museum to develop deep collections data for three rich but understudied areas of the Museum’s collections – African, Latin American and Native American art. The resulting information – including subject tagging, artist biographies and/or culture group backgrounds, geo-references, exhibition histories, bibliographies, contexts and purposes of objects and links to related concepts and artworks – will be documented and published online for greatly improved discovery by scholars, educators, students, visitors and global audiences via the Museum’s website.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Princeton University a grant of $300,000 to support three years of specialist research in targeted areas of the collections as part of the Art Museum’s multiyear Collections Discovery Initiative. The grant allows the Museum to develop deep collections data for three rich but understudied areas of the Museum’s collections – African, Latin American and Native American art. The resulting information – including subject tagging, artist biographies and/or culture group backgrounds, geo-references, exhibition histories, bibliographies, contexts and purposes of objects and links to related concepts and artworks – will be documented and published online for greatly improved discovery by scholars, educators, students, visitors and global audiences via the Museum’s website.

By increasing core knowledge in these three collections areas and offering intuitive access points to improved collections records, the Museum will advance efforts to provide more diverse and inclusive understanding of the collections and of global art history for all of its audiences.
“Thanks once again to the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Museum will be able to dramatically enhance the teaching, learning and research activities around these important but previously understudied areas of our collections,” said James Steward, the Nancy A. Nasher–David J. Haemisegger, Class of 1976, Director. “We look forward to expanding our understanding of, and ultimately access to, these extraordinary objects through this critical process of investigation and dissemination.”
The 2017 grant builds on past support from the Mellon Foundation that dramatically enhanced diverse and sustained academic use of the Museum’s collections of nearly 100,000 works of art.
The Princeton University Art Museum’s African art holdings represent a wide range – materially and culturally – of artistic production. The original bequest of African art to Princeton was made in 1953, and this area has been a specific focus of recent art acquisition activity, with changing highlights on view in the Museum’s recently expanded African art gallery. In recent years, the Museum has organized several special exhibitions of African art, including Life Objects: Rites of Passage in African Art (2009), Kongo across the Waters (2014) and Surfaces Seen and Unseen: African Art at Princeton (2016).
At the heart of the Museum’s collection of Latin American art is a group of 140 works gifted to the University by Princeton alumnus David L. Meginnity, Class of 1958. The Meginnity Collection features strong examples of many important Latin American artists – including Francisco Toledo, Wilfredo Lam, Rafael Coronel, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Francisco Zuñiga and Alfredo Ramos Martínez. A subsequent bequest from the same alumnus, realized in 2000, has enabled the purchase of additional works of Latin American art.
Included in the Museum’s collection of art from the ancient Americas are 1,453 artworks by Native American artists. The Museum’s holdings are particularly strong in Native American Northwest Coast art, thanks to the donation in 1882 of 324 objects of mostly Tlingit origin, as well as Arctic walrus ivory carvings and works from the American Southwest and Mississippi Valley.