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Blanton Museum Receives Mellon Foundation Grant to Train Future Curators

The Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin has been awarded a $504,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to establish a curatorial fellowship program for a six-year period to help train future museum curators.

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The Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin has been awarded a $504,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to establish a curatorial fellowship program for a six-year period to help train future museum curators.

In collaboration with the Department of Art and Art History in the College of Fine Arts, the Blanton will pilot an innovative and rigorous program for art history doctoral students that facilitates opportunities for study using objects from the Blanton’s collection, and that promotes a comprehensive, practical understanding of museum operations. Mellon fellows will receive substantive, hands-on professional training as they work with Blanton curators, as well as educators and other key staff members, on all aspects of exhibition and collection activities.

“We are grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for this prestigious and very generous award,” said Blanton Director Simone Wicha. “By integrating the classroom experience with museum training, this program will transform the Blanton’s engagement with art history graduate students. Working closely with the museum’s talented staff will enhance their professional and intellectual preparation as the next generation of museum leaders. It is the goal of the Blanton and the Department of Art History to elevate the museum’s curatorial internships to a level of national prominence and reinforce UT’s reputation as a premier center for the study of art history.”

The Mellon Fellowships will be one academic year in length and awarded through a competitive process to current and incoming Ph.D. students in the university’s art history program. Three positions will be offered per year, one in each of the Blanton’s core collection areas: Prints and Drawings, and European Paintings; Modern and Contemporary Art; and Latin American Art. Mellon fellows will develop skills ranging from advanced object research and connoisseurship to identifying curricular connections and creating interpretive resources. All fellows will develop a project that grows out of their work at the Blanton, which could include a gallery installation, electronic publication, catalog essay, interpretive brochure, or other resources for university and community audiences.

“The University of Texas at Austin possesses a rare combination of institutional and intellectual resources to provide professional museum training for students who will define both academic and arts institutions in the coming years,” said Jack Risley, chair of the Department of Art and Art History. “The Mellon Fellowships present a unique opportunity for both the Blanton and the Art History doctoral program to create something greater than the sum of their parts.”

To provide further training for Mellon fellows, the Blanton will create a multidisciplinary professional development seminar focusing on a variety of topics relevant to both curatorial practice and museum operations. Speakers will include Blanton senior staffers, UT Austin faculty members from a range of disciplines and outside guests who are leaders in the field and visionary thinkers. Fellows will also receive travel stipends to attend at least one conference or symposium, or to accompany Blanton curators on research and planning trips.

About the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation makes grants in five core program areas:

  • Higher education and scholarship
  • Scholarly communications and information technology
  • Art history, conservation and museums
  • Performing arts
  • Conservation and the environment

Institutions and programs receiving support are often leaders in fields of the foundation’s activity, but they may also be promising newcomers or in a position to demonstrate new ways of overcoming obstacles to achieve program goals. The Mellon Foundation’s grantmaking philosophy is to build, strengthen and sustain institutions and their core capacities, rather than be a source for narrowly defined projects. As such, the Mellon Foundation develops thoughtful, long-term collaborations with grant recipients and invests sufficient funds for an extended period to accomplish the purpose at hand and achieve meaningful results.