With $359,000 grant, museum and Tougaloo College take artistic view of civil rights

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The Mississippi Museum of Art and Tougaloo College are teaming up for a new Art and Civil Rights Initiative.

This move comes as a precursor to the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson in December 2017, the nation’s first state-funded civil rights museum.

The partnership will combine the art collections of both institutions in order to “meet the teaching needs of the college and the culture needs of the community” in order to foster community dialogue and interpretation about past and present civil rights issues, said Dr. Beverly W. Hogan, president of Tougaloo College.

“A liberal arts African American college in America struggles everyday for survival,” said U.S. Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, referring to Tougaloo.

Thompson recalls growing up with no access to art and creating art. An alumnus of Tougaloo, it wasn’t until he attended the private historically black college that he experienced the activism and interpretation of art and art culture.

“We don’t have the appropriations like others, but we have an ongoing education program that must move forward,” he added.

The initiative received a $395,000 two-year grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. Under the direction of a shared staff position between the two institutions, the initiative will continue to seek funding, increase scholarship opportunities for students, teach students, and develop exhibitions for the community.

The goals of the initiative is to develop the following:

  • A series of four exhibitions over the next two years, rotating between the two institutions and exploring artistic perspectives on the Civil Rights movement 
  • A series of lectures and workshops, featuring nationally recognized scholars, to accompany each rotating exhibition
  • A gallery guide, explanatory text panels, and other accompanying exhibition interpretive tools
  • An annual, paid internship program supporting four Tougaloo College students who will work for the Tougaloo Art Gallery and the Museum
  • A documentation and digitization for Tougaloo College’s art collection

“Tougaloo College has a rich history of civil and social activism, and we’re honored to embark on this journey with them. The college’s incredible art collection – which the museum first showcased in 1978 as part of its inauguration – provides additional resources and storylines to support cultural exchange and national dialogue at this important moment in American history,” said Betsy Bradley, the director of the Mississippi Museum of Art.