BALTIMORE, MD—The Walters Art Museum has received a $463,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the American Rescue Plan. The grant will fund new community engagement, accessibility, and inclusivity initiatives at the Walters, as well as support the museum’s core missions including free education, exhibitions, and virtual offerings.
The NEH Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (#SHARP) grant supports jobs, growth, and innovation as the United States emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic. At the Walters, the grant will fund initiatives that deepen relationships and dialogue with audiences, including the creation of a new evaluation and impact team tasked with gathering community feedback and understanding impact, supporting the work of the team dedicated to learning and community engagement, as well as photography and videography staff. This work will be reflected in several major upcoming reinstallations and exhibitions—the Asian and Islamic art collections in the fall of 2022, Arts of the Americas in 2023, and a fall 2023 exhibition of Ethiopian art, Ethiopia at the Crossroads. The grant will also support a series of public programs that examine the Walters history and promote conversation between scholars, cultural groups, and community leaders.
“As we approach a new phase in the life of the museum, we see this moment as an opportunity for growth, innovation, and a redefinition of how we use our humanities-based collections and expand and strengthen our work of bringing art and people together,” said Julia Marciari-Alexander, Andrea B. and John H. Laporte Director. “We are aligning our focus on community and want to encapsulate the idea of the museum as a center of civic life and dialogue, which includes critical self-reflection, identifying and building relationships with new audiences, and making our collection more accessible through media and technology.”
The Walters efforts supported by the NEH will strengthen inclusivity, representation, and equality at the Walters, both in programs and in the larger stories told through the collection. It also will transform how the Walters presents these stories, including Spanish language translation, sign language interpretation, and creating spaces for learning and dialogue.
During the past year, the Walters released extensive research on the founders, their ties to the Confederacy, their collecting interests, and the Eurocentric traditions that formed not only the Walters collection but also helped shape collective understanding of history. The museum also developed new diversity, equity, access, and inclusion (DEAI) goals, including efforts to diversify and contextualize the stories the museum tells through its art and programs and to be more inclusive of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) art, perspectives, and stories, as well as those of other underrepresented people and cultures.
“By centering equity, inclusion, and accountability in our organization’s culture and decision-making, we aim to lead the museum field in proactively exploring how we shape our national understanding. This incredible grant from the NEH will allow the Walters to re-imagine how we engage with our public to create space for dialogue and societal growth,” Marciari-Alexander said. “The Walters believes in the fundamental role art and history play in shaping a better future. We will strengthen our partnership with our communities through dialogue and accountability.”
ABOUT THE WALTERS ART MUSEUM
The Walters Art Museum is a cultural hub in the heart of Baltimore, located in the city’s Mount Vernon neighborhood. The museum’s collection spans more than seven millennia, from 5000 BCE to the 21st century, and encompasses 36,000 objects from around the world. Walking through the museum’s historic buildings, visitors encounter a stunning panorama of thousands of years of art, from romantic 19th-century images of French gardens to mesmerizing Ethiopian icons, richly illuminated Qur’ans and Gospel books, ancient Roman sarcophagi, and serene images of the Buddha. Since its founding, the Walters’ mission has been to bring art and people together to create a place where people of every background can be touched by art. As part of this commitment, admission to the museum and special exhibitions is always free.
Admission to the museum is free. The Walters Art Museum is located at 600 N. Charles St., north of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. For general museum information, call 410-547-9000 or visit thewalters.org.
Free access to the Walters Art Museum, online and in person, is made possible through the combined generosity of individual donors, foundations, corporations, and grants from the City of Baltimore, Maryland State Arts Council, Citizens of Baltimore County, and Howard County Government and Howard County Arts Council.