The grant will be used to fund new curatorial and research positions as well as the first-ever catalogue of the museum's pioneering collection of more than four thousand African artworks. The museum began acquiring the pieces in the collection in 1914, five years after its founding, and in 1926 mounted one of the first museum exhibitions of African art. Last year the museum unveiled "Present Tense: Arts of Contemporary Africa," the first permanent collection gallery devoted to contemporary African art in the United States.
The grant from the Mellon Foundation will help the museum triple its African art gallery space; the reinstalled collection is expected to open in 2015. Along with the catalogue, a dynamic interpretative framework will enable audiences and scholars think about, view, and engage with the collection in new ways.
"We are profoundly grateful to the Mellon Foundation for its recognition of the museum's great strengths — scholarly excellence combined with collections-based outreach to broad audiences," said Newark Museum director and CEO Mary Sue Sweeney Price. "Mellon support comes at a critical moment, as we galvanize our outreach efforts to create a new suite of galleries for this important collection and expand educational programming in African art and culture."