Proposals Sought for U.S. Department of State, American Alliance of Museums's Museums Connect Grant Program 

WASHINGTON, D.C., (Sept. 13, 2012) ─ The American Alliance of Museums (formerly the American Association of Museums) is accepting proposals for the sixth cycle of the Museums Connect: Building Global Communities grant program. Museums Connect, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State that is administered by the Alliance, provides an opportunity for U.S. and international museums to partner with each other and their local communities around issues of mutual interest to foster greater dialogue and cultural understanding through collaborative and innovative projects.

“An elder stateswoman in the museum community reminded me that every once in a while we needed to remember to gift ourselves the chance to reconnect with what brought us to the field in the first place. The [Museums Connect] project was that gift for me,” said former participant Tonya Matthews, Vice President of Museums at the Cincinnati Museum Center. “It reminded me of why I came into museum work; it reminded me of the power of museums to connect to communities, to motivate young minds, to inspire educators, and to use creativity and imagination to put new thoughts into open minds and hearts.”

"Museums Connect projects do on a global scale what museums do every day, in every region of America," said Alliance president Ford W. Bell. "Museums are our communities, and this initiative builds understanding and collaborations across boundaries—geographic, economic and cultural. We are proud to partner with the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs on Museums Connect."

The Museums Connect program has two primary goals:

  • To bridge communities in the U.S. and abroad by developing broader knowledge and understanding of one another's cultures.
  • To create models for international collaborations that reach beyond the organization’s physical walls and directly engage members of their communities.

Museums Connect allows museums to propose projects that reflect their institutional goals, unique collections, capabilities, audiences and expertise. Local community members in the U.S. and abroad act as equal partners with the museums in shaping the project and achieving its goals. Public activities and events broaden the projects’ impact and allow public audiences and government officials to learn more about the essential role museums play in their communities.

Among the many successful projects completed since the program’s inception in 2007 are We the People: Afghanistan, America and the Minority Imprint and Rainforest Leadership Academy: Cross-Cultural Teacher Training and Mentoring.

During 2009, We the People brought together inner-city teenagers working with the National Museum of Afghanistan and the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Kids armed with cameras and curiosity documented how people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds come to see themselves as equal members of a common civic community and how they interpret such concepts as dissent, religious freedom and democracy. In addition to communicating and critiquing each other’s photos online, the Afghan students visited their peers in Philadelphia to select photo pairs, one from each country, that were included in interactive exhibits in both museums. The exchange lives on at http://constitutioncenter.org/beingwe/ in an online exhibition where visitors can view and respond to the students’ work.

In 2011, the project Rainforest Leadership Academy: Cross-Cultural Teacher Training and Mentoring brought together the Maloka Museum in Colombia and the California Science Center to collaboratively develop materials with mentor teachers for inquiry-based learning about rainforests in their regions. Public school teachers from Bogota and Los Angeles and indigenous teachers from the Yurok and Ticuna tribes, located in rainforests in Northern California and on the Amazon River respectively, shared knowledge and resources to create professional development trainings for their fellow teachers as well as a curriculum for student lessons. They traveled between all four regions to learn firsthand about the diversity of the rainforests and cultures in both countries, led activities with students in their classes to test and refine their concepts, and held workshops to train nearly 300 of their peers in the use of the developed materials. To expand the reach of the project, the museums created a website (http://malokapro.org/rainforest/) where teachers and students across the globe can download the rainforest activities and resources.

About the Grant Process

Museums Connect projects must be community focused, mutually beneficial, and produce tangible outputs that engage their audiences. Museum participants identify their own partners and collaborate to create a project proposal that meets the needs of both communities and reflects the missions of both institutions. The proposal process consists of three phases:

In Phase I, all interested U.S. and non-U.S. museums submit museum profiles, which provide basic institutional information and initial project ideas, and identify partners. Museums Connect partnerships consist of at least one U.S. museum and at least one non-U.S. museum. They may be formed through existing relationships or by identifying a partner through the profiles posted on the Museums Connect website. To that end, museum profiles submitted by October 15, 2012 are posted on the website for potential partners to review; profiles from pre-partnered museums are accepted through January 14, 2013.

In Phase II, the U.S. museum submits a brief statement of intent to propose on behalf of the partnership by January 31, 2013. The statement provides an overview of the project concept and allows Museums Connect staff to begin a dialogue with the partners about their ideas.

In Phase III, the U.S. museum submits a final proposal on behalf of the partnership by April 8, 2013.

The project structure and timeline are at the discretion of the participants. However, projects must be completed by July 31, 2014 and must involve travel for both U.S. and non-U.S. museum participants. Community member travel is also encouraged. U.S. museum staff serve as the lead project coordinator and as the fiscal agent, managing project activities, filing required reports, and disbursing funds as articulated in the project budget.

The 2013 cycle of Museums Connect will support at least 10 projects with grant funding up to $100,000 per project; awarded partnerships are required to identify a 50% direct or indirect match for all grant funds received.

For further information about the program, the proposal process, and to learn the types of projects Museums Connect funds, visit the Alliance website at www.aam-us.org/museumsconnect. For questions, contact Museums Connect staff at museumsconnect@aam-us.org.

About the American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums is the largest museum service organization in the world, serving all types of museums, including art, history, science, botanic gardens, zoos and aquariums. The Alliance helps museums serve their communities by developing standards and best practices, offering professional training and resources, and serving as the national voice of museums for the public, media and elected officials. Working on behalf of 17,500 museums, 400,000 museum employees, thousands of volunteers and the visitors who come to museums 850 million times each year, the Alliance is dedicated to bolstering museums in promoting lifelong learning, celebrating cultural heritage and inspiring the creative skills to compete in a global economy. For more information, visit www.aam-us.org.

About the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) promotes international mutual understanding through a wide range of academic, cultural, private-sector, professional, and sports exchange programs. The Bureau’s exchanges engage youth, students, educators, artists, athletes, and emerging leaders in many fields in the United States and in more than 160 countries. Alumni of ECA exchanges comprise over one million people around the world, including more than 50 Nobel Laureates and more than 320 current or former heads of state and government. For more information, visit exchanges.state.gov/.

Media Contacts

Dewey Blanton
Alliance Communications
202-218-7704
Anna Griffin
Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
U.S. Department of State
202-632-6452