The New York City-based Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has announced grants totaling nearly $9.4 million in support of efforts to reimagine and rebuild commemorative spaces that celebrate and affirm the contributions of diverse communities to U.S. history.
Part of a five-year, $250 million Monuments Project launched by the foundation in October, the grants will support five projects designed to educate the public about the nation's shared collective past and help inform a more just future.
The recipients are the Emmett Till Interpretive Center ($651,750), which will use its grant to expand racial healing efforts in the Mississippi Delta and advance a year-long strategic planning process; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art ($1.2 million over three years), in support of curation, community engagement, and related public programming for the "Monumental Perspectives" project, which will use augmented reality technology to share often-untold perspectives from local communities; MASS Design Group ($500,000 over two years), whose "Public Memory and Memorial Lab" initiative will support organizations working on projects focused on memorialization, collective memory, and truth-telling; Prospect New Orleans ($2 million over two years), which will use its grant to mount a citywide exhibition highlighting monuments' power to both create and complicate history; and the Social and Public Art Resource Center ($5 million over three years), in support of the preservation, activation, and expansion of the "Great Wall of Los Angeles" — a mural by Judy Baca and one of the largest monuments to interracial harmony in the United States.
"Monuments and memorials powerfully shape our understanding of our country's past and determine which narratives we honor and celebrate in the American story," said Mellon Foundation president Elizabeth Alexander. "Future generations ought to inherit an inclusive commemorative landscape that elevates the visionary contributions and remarkable experiences of the many different communities that make up the United States. With these five grants, we are affirming our commitment to support organizations engaged in creating and contextualizing monuments and memorials that convey the extraordinary multiplicity of our complex history."