Applications sought for NEH grants in museum studies

Therese Quinn, director of the Museum and Exhibition Studies program, helped to get an NEH grant to increase minority representation in museum studies.

Therese Quinn, director of the museum and exhibition studies program, helped to get an NEH grant to increase minority representation in museum studies.

Students of color who would like to seek a master’s degree in museum and exhibition studies may apply for one of two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The award is part of NEH’s inaugural Humanities Access grants, which provide cultural programming to underserved groups and is awarded to 34 organizations, including the University of Illinois at Chicago’s museum and exhibition studies program, or MUSE. The grant calls for UIC to match $50,000 of NEH funds for stipends and tuition waivers worth a total of $100,000.

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Therese Quinn, director of MUSE, said there was a need for diversity and cited recent statistics that show non-Hispanic whites make up the overwhelming number of curators, conservators and administrators helping museums pursue their intellectual and educational missions.

MUSE is an interdisciplinary and justice-centered program that emphasizes the evolving social and political contexts of cultural institutions.

A 2015 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation research shows that “Non-Hispanic white staff dominate the job categories…associated with the intellectual and educational mission of museums, including those of curators, conservators, educators, and leadership.” In those positions, using census categories, “84 percent of staff identify as non-Hispanic white, with 6 percent Asian, 4 percent black, 3 percent Hispanic white, and 3 percent two or more races.”

The Humanities Access Grant from the NEH will be used to support graduate assistantships offering stipends and tuition waivers for two graduate students of color enrolled in the two-year, interdisciplinary master’s program. The first student to receive these funds began the program in fall 2017 and the second recipient will be a member of the 2018 incoming class.

The MUSE 2018 application cycle opened on Sept. 1 and all application materials must be received by Dec. 15.

For information on MUSE click here and go here for application information.

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