A Quiet Storm, As Thousands Of Smaller Museums At Risk Of Closing Because Of COVID

December 21, 2020

Though Harlem-based museums are not affected, the financial state of US museums in peril amid the ever-changing global pandemic, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation today announced the second round of the Art Museum Futures Fund, distributing additional emergency COVID-19 grants totaling $3 million to provide much-needed support to small arts and cultural institutions across the US.

As COVID-19 continues to surge across the US, art museums are losing millions of dollars in revenue, leaving about one-third of all institutions at risk of permanent closures, according to a recent survey by the American Alliance of Museums.

Smaller institutions are far less able to rely on endowments to survive the financial burden of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Art Museum Futures Fund’s second round of grants will be distributed to 14 small-sized arts museums with strong and long-standing commitments to the local community and social justice. Grants will be used to support general operations.

 “America’s small-sized arts and culture institutions sustain their communities by providing access to transformative and wide-ranging artistic contributions while also preserving many different histories and cultural legacies,” said Elizabeth Alexander, President of the Mellon Foundation. “As the pandemic continues to threaten the future viability of museums that have long been underresourced, we must do our part to strengthen support for these organizations and the trenchant work they tirelessly undertake to enrich and expand our American story.”

 The Mellon Foundation launched the Art Museum Futures Fund in September 2020 with the distribution of nearly $24 million to 12 midsized arts museums and cultural organizations across the country facing unprecedented financial obstacles as a result of the pandemic.

With today’s announced grants supporting smaller museums, Mellon’s contribution to the Art Museum Futures Fund totals $27 million, furthering the Foundation’s commitment to funding the recovery of art institutions as they adapt to the ongoing financial obstacles posed by the pandemic.

Recipients of the Art Museum Futures Fund II are:

  • Abbe Museum, Bar Harbor, ME
  • Art Museum and Visual Arts Program at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque, NM
  • California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA
  • El Paso Museum of Art, TX
  • Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, PA
  • Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY
  • Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, MI
  • Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York, NY
  • Mexic-Arte Museum, Austin, TX
  • New Britain Museum of American Art, CT
  • New Orleans African American Museum, LA
  • Riverside Art Museum, CA
  • San José Museum of Art, CA
  • Tucson Museum of Art, AZ

The Foundation continues to make direct grants to museums as part of its regular grantmaking cycle.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities.

Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding.

The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there.

Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive.

Photo credit: Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY

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