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.