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MetLife Foundation Selects Winners for its 2004 Museum Connections Program; Over $500,000 awarded to 17 museums.

NEW YORK -- MetLife Foundation today announced the winners of its 2004 Museum Connections Program. Seventeen art museums from southwestern and midwestern states were awarded grants totaling over $500,000 in this national competitive program.

The grants support programs that increase interaction between museums and the people in their communities, exposing the cultural resources found in museums to a broader segment of the population and helping to make art part of their lives.

"Museums enrich our lives in so many ways," said Sibyl Jacobson, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation. "They increase understanding of our world and reflect important cultural traditions. They are important resources for educating people of all ages. MetLife Foundation is pleased to recognize these imaginative programs."

The winning proposals were selected by a distinguished committee, comprised of Amanda Cruz, executive director of Artadia, Inc., Malcolm Rogers, director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Lowery Stokes Sims, director of the Studio Museum in Harlem, and Rick West, director of the National Museum of the American Indian.

The selection process was based on clearly defined project outcomes, a project's potential success for involving communities in the arts, demonstration of an organization's sustained commitment to community, innovation and creativity of the project, and the project's long-range implications and potential for replication.

Grant Recipients

Art Museum of Southeast Texas (Beaumont, TX)

"Art-to-Go" is a mobile outreach program. It takes art education and hands-on art experiences to the region's remote and underserved audiences in venues such as classrooms, libraries, assisted living centers, housing projects and community centers.

Cincinnati Art Museum (Cincinnati, OH)

To strengthen its relationship with the region's diverse communities, the museum developed a three-year community engagement initiative to partner with community organizations and create programs through the museum's collections.

Dahl Arts Center (Rapid City, SD)

The project is a partnership between the Rapid City Arts Council, the Rapid City Public Schools, the Rapid City YMCA and the First Peoples Fund. Its aim is to strengthen community ties to the museum through two activities: one that serves elementary and middle school students and a second that provides professional development opportunities to both Native Americans and non-Native.

Flint Institute of Arts (Flint, MI)

The grant will support an artist-in-residence program and exhibition designed to build new and diverse audiences. Planned in conjuction with the 150th anniversary of the city of Flint and the completion of a major renovation to the Flint Institute of Arts (FIA), the residency will result in the creation of a tile mural for an exterior wall of the FIA Art School. In addition, an exhibition will highlight a unique part of Flint's past with connections to the FIA.

Indianapolis Art Center (Indianapolis, IN)

Now in its fifteenth year, ArtReach offers free art education programs at-risk children between the ages of 5 through 12. Studio art classes are held at sites located in community housing cooperatives, shelters, schools, multi-service centers, and churches.

Indianapolis Museum of Art (Indianapolis, IN)

Thinking through Art is a collaboration between several local museums and schools to integrate art into classrooms. It encourages active student participation and centers around students' learning needs and styles. A training program will help teachers learn to facilitate discussions of art images taken from museum collections across the state.

John Michael Kohler Arts Center (Sheboygan, WI)

The Connecting Communities program brings together local artists and diverse populations of the community in the creation of new work. An exhibition will be based on the transformed home of the self-taught artist Loy Bowlin.

Kentucky Folk Art Center at Morehead State University (Morehead, KY)

The Center will collaborate with the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music to engage students, educators, and community groups in a dialog about the region's rich indigenous arts and culture through a range of outreach programs that will reach 20,000 students and community residents in rural Appalachia.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston, TX)

Gateway to Art/De Puertas al Arte is a four-year initiative focusing exhibitions, programs, and publications on modern and contemporary Latin American/Latino art. It includes off-site programs and exhibitions at local libraries. It will also bring exhibitions, teacher training, and student art making activities to rural communities 150 miles from Houston.

New Orleans Museum of Art (New Orleans, LA)

A collaboration with the New Orleans Recreation Department and the Institute for the Traditional Building Arts, "Summer in the City" will serve approximately 1,000 inner city youth at 21 park sites. A traveling panel exhibition titled "Raised to the Trade: Creole Building Arts of New Orleans" will put names and faces to historically unresearched artisans who built New Orleans.

Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Minneapolis, MN)

The Urban Connections project will increase interaction between the museum and growing and diverse urban communities in the Twin Cities; expose new audiences to the museum's collection and resources available at the museum; and expand the existing partnership between the Institute and the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board.

Mitchell Museum of the American Indian (Evanston, IL)

Support will help expand the museum's American Indian Artists Marketplace, which focuses on the contemporary visual art created by Native people living in the Chicago area.

Mulvane Art Museum (Topeka, KS)

The grant will support a collaborative hands-on project involving African-American artist and children's book illustrator Shane Evans and fifth graders from four Topeka elementary schools. The children's work will be shown in the museum along with work by Evans and related art work from the museum's permanent collection.

Speed Art Museum (Louisville, KY)

In collaboration with Jefferson Community College, the museum will implement a two-year project that will diversify, broaden, and deepen community participation in the museum. Programs range from first-time visits to the museum, to festivals and events that promote family participation in the museum, to student training and opportunities in museum careers.

Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)

Writing Through Art will engage students in six local public schools the process of writing. Using art as a catalyst both within and beyond the gallery walls, the program brings together a network of teachers, museum staff, visiting writers and artists, and parents to support a student's learning.

Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science (Sioux Falls, SD)

Randall Blaze: "Metamorphosis" An Installation will feature the work of Randall Blaze, an award-winning South Dakota artist and member of the Oglala Lakota tribe and highlight Blaze's collaborative 'totem vessel' work with area students, relating Native American stories and imagery that have cultural and spiritual significance for Native American people.

Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, OH)

The center's Teen Programs serve Columbus area students through workshops with local artists and through interdisciplinary programs using local resources. Under the guidance of Ohio State University professors of ecology, for example, nationally recognized artists, Center education staff, and high school students will visit sites around Columbus over a nine-month period.

About the Museum Connections Program

Museums have broad appeal and reach. According to a 2003 survey conducted by Americans for the Arts and National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, over 850 million people visited the 16,000 museums in the US. That was more than those attending all the country's professional baseball, football, and basketball sporting events combined.

Museum Connections is a multi-year competitive program open to art museums in the fifty states and the District of Columbia. To best serve the museum field, each year the application process is offered in a particular region. Since its inception in 2000, the program has awarded 83 grants totaling over $2.5 million. Information on past winners and program guidelines are available on the Foundation's Web site at www.metlife.org.

Geographic Schedule

2000 and 2003: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

2001 and 2004: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin will be eligible.

2002 and 2005: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington or Wyoming. (Application deadline for the 2005 program will be announced in late April 2005.)

MetLife Foundation was established by MetLife to carry on the company's longstanding tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. Recognizing the vital role the arts play in building communities and educating young people, MetLife Foundation contributes to arts and cultural organizations across the United States, with an emphasis on increasing opportunities for young people, reaching broad audiences through inclusive programming, and making arts more accessible for all people. For more information about the Foundation, please visit its Web site at www.metlife.org.
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