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Aetna Gives $500,000 Donation to the Amistad Center for Art & Culture.

-- Largest Corporate Gift in The Amistad Center's History --

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Aetna (NYSE: AET) today announced a $500,000 donation to The Amistad Center for Art & Culture, the largest single corporate gift in the Center's history. The gift marks a 20-year relationship between the company and The Amistad Center.

Located at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Conn., The Amistad Center for Art & Culture owns one of the country's finest art and humanities collections devoted to the African-American experience.

Aetna's grant will be used for The Amistad Center's acclaimed exhibition, Double Exposure; African Americans Before and Behind the Camera, which is expected to travel to the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco in June 2008, and to museums in Chicago, Ill., Houston, Tex., Baltimore, Md., and Washington, DC, in 2009.

In presenting the gift, which will be paid over a five-year period, Aetna Chairman and CEO Ronald A. Williams said, "Our relationship with The Amistad Center has come full circle. Aetna was there in the very beginning, recognizing the significance of the collection and working with the founders to help them acquire it. Over the last 20 years we've seen it grow into an important historical and cultural resource. We're pleased that today we can help The Amistad Center take its superb collection and exhibition plans to a national audience. We view the Center's collection as an extraordinary teaching tool."

The Aetna grant also enables The Amistad Center to inaugurate its Artist in Residence program. The award-winning Atlanta-based photographer, Sheila Pree Bright, is currently in residence, completing a series of works entitled, Young Americans, for an exhibition that will open at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Ga., in May 2008. This exhibition also will be sponsored by Aetna.

The Amistad Center's board President, JoAnn Price, said, "Aetna's contribution to The Amistad Center is the most significant corporate gift we've ever received. We're honored that Aetna chose to help us share this important collection and the exhibitions that emanate from it with a much wider audience."

About The Amistad Center for Art & Culture

The Amistad Center for Art & Culture, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, owns one of the country's finest art and humanities collections devoted to the African-American experience. Housed at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Conn., The Amistad Center's collection contains rare books, documents, artifacts and fine art and photography relating to the history of African-Americans. Inspired by its collection, The Amistad Center's mission is to interpret and celebrate African-American art and humanities and to educate the pubic about their importance and influence in American life.

On exhibit through Oct. 21, is For the Love of the Game, Race and Sport in America. Visit The Amistad Center's Web Site at

About Aetna

Aetna is one of the nation's leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 34.9 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life, long-term care and disability plans, and medical management capabilities. Our customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans and government-sponsored plans. Information about The Aetna Foundation, Aetna's independent charitable and philanthropic arm can be found at

About Double Exposure

Double Exposure showcases vintage photographs from the Amistad Center for Art & Culture's historical collection of art and artifacts with photo-based art by contemporary African-American artists.

According to guest curators Lisa Henry and Frank Mitchell, the exhibit illuminates the persistent interplay between the past and the present in African-American photography. The exhibit also looks at the myriad choices now available to photo-based artists.

The techniques represented in the exhibit include: daguerreotypes, tintypes, cartes de visites, traditional silver prints, Polaroids and digital prints, assemblage and photographs printed on linen, wood and felt.

Double Exposure presents the history of African-American photography in thematic sections as opposed to a strict chronology. The major themes include:

* The influence of historical and family photographs on contemporary African-American art;

* The multiple uses of photographic appropriation; a technique that has been used since the 1970s to commemorate as well as to critique;

* The importance of the portrait tradition in African-American photography from the earliest studio portraits of the 19th century to the mural size color and digital portraits made today; and

* The influence of master photographers such as Augustus Washington, James Van Der Zee, Gordon Parks and Roy DeCarava.

Predominant subjects include:

* The history of African-Americans as photographic subjects;

* The diversity and artistry of black life as depicted by African-Americans who have taken up the camera to create their own images;

* Contemporary works that comment on slavery and the civil rights conflicts of the 20th century; and

* Contemporary explorations of family, identity and history.

About the curators

Lisa Henry is an independent curator and writer. She is a former Assistant Curator for American Art at the Newark Museum in New Jersey. Her exhibitions include: The Grapes of Wrath: Horace Bristol's California Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum, and I'm Thinking of a Place at the UCLA Hammer Museum, and the upcoming exhibition, Blacks in and Out of the Box, at The California African American Museum.

Frank Mitchell is Consulting Historian for The Amistad Center for Art & Culture at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Collections Manager for the New Haven Municipal Art Collection, and has taught museum studies for Trinity College's Graduate Studies Program. He is a founding partner of the consulting group Westside Works and board president of the Connecticut public history cooperative Stone Soup ( Curatorial projects for The Amistad Center include the exhibitions Sankofa, Hairitage, Flagging Freedom, Freeness!, Nothing but Freedom, Double Exposure: African Americans Before and Behind the Camera, and Soul Food! African American Cooking and Creativity. His other curatorial projects include The 1901 Project, New Haven Colony Historical Society/International Festival of Arts and Ideas; Welcome Amistad exhibit, The New Haven Savings Bank; and the Mattatuck Museum's African-American Oral History Project.

About The Amistad Center for Art & Culture

The Amistad Center for Art & Culture owns one of the country's finest art and humanities collections devoted to the African-American experience. A unique resource for historians and curators from around the world, the Amistad collection contains rare books, manuscripts, artifacts and fine art and photography relating to the history of African-Americans. A particular strength of the collection is its more than 1,900 19th- and 20th-century photographs that range from vivid images of slave life and the Reconstruction era of the 1860s through the turn of the century; to1940s and 1950s news photos of the Civil Rights movement, performers and political figures; to mid-to-late- 20th- century work with themes of social, political and historical references from our own time.
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Date:Oct 16, 2007
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