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Advancement + Grant News

WEATHERSPOON RECEIVES GRANT FOR ART AND COMMUNITY COLLABORATION

The Weatherspoon has just received a $75,000 grant from the Terra Foundation for American Art, part of its recently announced $4 million initiative, Re-envisioning Permanent Collections: A Special Initiative for US Museums. The grant will be used for the museum’s forthcoming three-year project, Leading with Objects: Engaging the Community in Institutional Change. The Weatherspoon will use the money and time to transform how the museum “does business” by partnering with university, civic, museum, and other community entities to reconsider, reinterpret, and re-present its collection to tell fuller, more inclusive, and more diverse histories of American art. This inclusive initiative is intended to impact the museum’s practice and, by extension, its role within the community.

“This project is at the heart of the Weatherspoon’s purpose, to inspire and enable meaningful engagement with original works of art in ways that contribute to a more equitable society,” said Juliette Bianco, the Anne and Ben Cone Memorial Endowed Director of the Weatherspoon Art Museum.
The grant will help the museum to hire a coordinating curator of community engagement, a position new to the museum, for two years. The curator will connect key project partners to develop a collaborative and inquiry-based reconsideration of its art collection, culminating in a year-long and museum-wide reinstallation of the art collection in 2023. All museum visitors will be invited to interact with the collection and each other and to share stories and experiences sparked by the museum’s collection in a specially designed community hub within the museum.

This grant project, said Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., “speaks directly to UNC Greensboro’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion and embodies our university value of ‘shared fate’—our recognition that a stronger UNCG only happens by working in partnership with communities within Greensboro and beyond.”

Leading with Objects will engage the community with a diverse range of artworks from the Weatherspoon’s collection, along with key loans from the university galleries at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (A&T), a new Weatherspoon partner. “This project allows us, together, to tell an even broader story of art and historical memory,” said Dr. Paul Baker, director of A&T’s university galleries. At the project’s conclusion, Baker and other project partners will contribute to a scholarly publication on this initiative’s outcome.

The Weatherspoon anticipates that the learning gleaned upon completion of Leading with Objects will affect its practices of research, display, visitor engagement, and interpretation to better promote access, inclusion, and transformation. Stay tuned for ways you can get involved.
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A CELEBRATION OF THE CONE FAMILY LEGACY

The Weatherspoon Art Museum and Cone Health share a common legacy as two organizations that have been supported by the Cone family’s long, deep, and engaged generosity in the Greensboro community. To celebrate that shared legacy, Cone Health hosted a virtual event on November 19, 2020, for Cone Health’s Bertha L. and Moses H. Cone Society members.

Cone Society members learned about Claribel and Etta Cone, the Cone sisters, who became voracious modern art collectors and recognized the value of sharing that art with the public. Weatherspoon Curator of Collections Elaine D. Gustafson presented a history of the Cone sisters’ impact on art in America and specifically at the Weatherspoon. Their donation of art in 1950 to the Weatherspoon became one of the cornerstones of the museum’s permanent collection. The Cone family’s generosity continued with gifts to fund art acquisitions to build the collection and the lead gift from Anne and Benjamin Cone, Sr., to construct the Weatherspoon’s current museum building. Cone Health Philanthropy Officer Ruth Heyd led a live question and answer session with Gustafson and Anne and Benjamin Cone Memorial Endowed Director Juliette Bianco, allowing participants to engage in the discussion.

The virtual presentation also included remarks from Weatherspoon Arts Foundation Board member Sally Cone, UNCG Chancellor Frank Gilliam, Cone Health Chief Executive Officer Terry Akin, and the Weatherspoon’s Juliette Bianco. The museum’s sculpture garden served as a perfect setting on a clear November afternoon to capture these leaders’ thoughts about their shared passions for education, health, and art as well as their gratitude for the Cone family’s commitment to Greensboro.

Images (top to bottom): Sally Cone films her remarks for the Nov. 19 event in the Weatherspoon’s courtyard. Cone Health Chief Executive Officer Terry Akin. Photos: Martin W. Kane, University Communications, 2020.
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ART BRIDGES: THE BRIDGE AHEAD INITIATIVE

The Weatherspoon has received a generous award of $40,000 from the Bridge Ahead Initiative, a project of the Art Bridges Foundation.

The vision of arts patron Alice Walton, Art Bridges is dedicated to expanding access to American art by providing support to museums for exhibition development, collection loans, and programs. The Weatherspoon became an Art Bridges partner early this past year when it worked with the foundation to borrow artist Jeff Koons’s One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (Spalding Dr. J Silver Series). The mesmerizing sculpture features a basketball hovering inexplicably at the center of a tank of water, and earlier this spring, it was the first artwork visitors saw as they entered the Weatherspoon’s exhibition To the Hoop: Basketball and Contemporary Art.

That exhibition, like so many others across the country, went dark in mid-March as the Weatherspoon closed its doors in the wake of COVID-19. Not long after, Art Bridges announced its Bridge Ahead initiative, a direct response to closures and challenges brought on by the pandemic. The initiative allowed the foundation’s partner museums with budgets under $30 million to apply for funding to offset financial needs created by the pandemic. Awarded in two phases, the grants support both activities pursued while museums are closed and projects undertaken as the museums open.

The Weatherspoon’s Phase 1 award has been used in multiple ways. It has supported additional photography of our exhibitions so that we can share them online, provided honoraria for arts and writing teachers to produce summer educational activities shared digitally, and allowed the museum to purchase its own Zoom webinar license in order to host live programs remotely. When the museum re-opened, Bridge Ahead funds for Phase 2 helped us equip the museum with protective equipment, social distancing signage, additional outdoor seating, and enhanced cleaning measures. In addition, the funding will allow us to build a custom mobile audio-visual cart for providing remote tours of the galleries in real-time for those groups that are no longer able to visit in person.

The overall support of Art Bridges is truly transformative. The Weatherspoon is thrilled to be able to continue sharing Jeff Koons’s incredible sculpture in the museum’s extended run of To the Hoop, and is so grateful for the support to make this exhibition, as well as other shows and programs, accessible in multiple ways both in and outside the museum. In these trying times, the power of art is more important than ever, and we thank Art Bridges for allowing us to share it as widely as possible.

UNCG men’s basketball team visits To the Hoop: Basketball and Contemporary Art (February 6, 2020), Weatherspoon Art Museum, photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications, 2020. Artwork: Jeff Koons, One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (Spalding Dr. J Silver Series), 1985. Glass, steel, sodium chloride reagent, distilled water, and basketball, 64 ¾ x 30 ¾ x 13 ¼ in. Art Bridges, Bentonville, Arkansas. © Jeff Koons
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NANCY M. DOLL EXHIBITIONS ENDOWMENT

Many of you have asked how you might honor Nancy Doll’s 22 years of service to the museum. We are pleased to share that Nancy made her own very generous commitment to the Weatherspoon. The Nancy M. Doll Exhibitions Endowment was established because of her belief that the Weatherspoon’s exhibitions impact many sectors of campus and the community. Exhibitions drawn from the collection demonstrate the depth and richness of the museum’s holdings. Special exhibitions provide countless opportunities for multidisciplinary connections and collaborations, and their variety serves to broaden the Weatherspoon’s audience. Nancy shared, “I hope the Exhibitions Endowment I’ve established will enable the Weatherspoon to continue presenting innovative, thoughtful, and compelling exhibitions that will resonate both on campus and in the community.”

We invite you to join Nancy by making a gift to the Doll Exhibitions Endowment in honor of her 22 years of service. To make a gift online, click HERE. You may also send a check to the Weatherspoon Art Museum, PO Box 26170, Greensboro 27402-6170. You may make the check payable to Weatherspoon Art Museum with “Nancy M. Doll Exhibitions Endowment” in the memo line. If you have questions, please contact Director of Development, Sarah Kathryn Sullivan, at sksullivan@uncg.edu 336.337.5965.

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COURTYARD RENOVATION

The Weatherspoon's sculpture garden has a fresh, new look, thanks to the generosity of UNCG alumna Mary Jo Conrad Cresimore (Class of ‘57).

The Corten steel walls on either side of the metal fence that faces Tate Street have been removed, as have a few trees. The trees inside the garden had grown well beyond their intended height to the point that they fully obscured the Weatherspoon Art Museum signage greeting people as they drove north on Tate Street or entered from the parking lot.

Now, a square bed with what will be much smaller trees and grasses enhances that end of the site, while the black bamboo on either side has been traded out for a smaller type of magnolia tree and blooming shrubs beneath. The renovated area provides a more open area and will enable us to eventually acquire more sculptures and provide more flexibility in their placement.
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Weatherspoon Art Museum
UNC Greensboro
500 Tate Street
Greensboro, NC 27402
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