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Five NYS Museums Awarded an IMLS Museum Grant for African American History and Culture

June 10, 2024 2:12 PM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

Five NYS museums were awarded a total of $846,372 Museum Grants for African American History and Culture from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Funding will support projects that build the capacity of African American museums or support the growth and development of museum professionals at African American Museums. 30 institutions across the United States were awarded a total of $5,916,807.

Weeksville Heritage Center will complete a comprehensive collections inventory and increase public access both onsite and online to its collections, documenting the history of Weeksville, one of the largest free Black communities in pre-Civil War America. For the project, staff will hire a new Collections Associate position and two paid interns. Project activities will include compiling existing inventories, cataloging items not yet accessioned, improving safe collections storage, restructuring digital records, and digitizing high-priority items. As a result of the project, staff will expand public access to the collections via a public database portal, enhanced exhibition displays, and an onsite Resource Center with educational resources for researchers, museum professionals, and community members.

The Lewis Latimer House Museum will hire staff to improve collections management and create a digital exhibition from the museum’s collection. In partnership with Queens Public Library, museum staff will digitize the Latimer Family Papers. The museum will hire a Collections Digitization Manager to train and supervise paid interns on digital asset management practices for the project. The museum will also hire a Digitization Specialist to implement collections digitization software. Staff will travel to conduct collections research, informing the creation of a digital exhibition of the museum’s permanent collection. 

The Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission will increase staff capacity and access to collections for five historic locations: the Michigan Street Baptist Church, Nash House Museum, Historic Colored Musicians Club and Jazz Museum, WUFO 1080 AM Black Radio History Collective, and Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor. To improve collections care and access, the organization will hire a new full-time Museum Collections and Interpretive Assistant to develop and coordinate exhibition content and programming. 

The Louis Armstrong House Museum will solicit oral histories from the local community about Louis and Lucille Armstrong to add to the Armstrong Archives and utilize in expanded programming. Located in Louis Armstrong's former neighborhood, the museum staff will gather accounts of the Armstrong family from surviving community members about Armstrong’s life, work, and community impact. Staff will record one-on-one and group interviews, catalog those interviews within a searchable database, and make the database accessible online for public use. 

The National Jazz Museum in Harlem will create educational videos and provide artist-led workshops for students.  Educational resources will focus on introducing jazz and improvisation to grade 1-3 students and multimedia workshops will serve fourth and fifth-grade students. Following each workshop, the museum will solicit detailed feedback from teachers. Staff will work with a team of educational consultants to create and post online videos for teachers to show their classes before visiting the museum to prepare students for their visit and videos for after students visit the museum to stimulate classroom discussions and reinforce concepts learned at the museum. 

Since its establishment in 2006, the program has provided $35,714,804 million in funding to over 250 African American museums and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. By investing in these institutions, IMLS helps ensure that their histories are preserved and that their students have opportunities to explore the museum field.

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The Museum Association of New York helps shape a better future for museums and museum professionals by uplifting best practices and building organizational capacity through advocacy, training, and networking opportunities.

Museum Association of New York is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. 

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