U.S. Department of State, the American Alliance of Museums Announce 2014 Museums Connect Grants

Nine Grants Create Museum-Based Exchanges That Build Global Communities, Foster Mutual Understanding

WASHINGTON, DC (July 1, 2014) ─ Museums Connect announced nine grants for the 2014 cycle, including projects in countries and states new to the program. Now in its seventh year, Museums Connect is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the American Alliance of Museums (the Alliance). Museums Connect pairs museums in the United States with museums abroad for a cross-cultural exchange that brings people, especially youth, together to open a dialogue through community projects, partnerships with local or tribal governments and schools and local events.

The mission of Museums Connect is to build global communities through partnership, collaboration and cross-cultural exchanges, linking the respective museums with communities both abroad and locally, while also supporting U.S. foreign policy goals such as youth empowerment and promoting disability rights.

"We know that museums change lives, and Museums Connect is Exhibit A in support of this claim," said AAM president Ford W. Bell. "This program fosters enlightenment and understanding—between countries, peoples and cultures. Connecting with communities abroad can change one’s entire perspective, and Museums Connect has certainly done so. AAM is proud to partner with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs on this powerful program."

Since its inception, Museums Connect has linked American museums in 26 states, plus the District of Columbia, with partners abroad in 45 countries, including Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, China, Mexico, Kenya and Morocco, among others. The program is excited to announce that it is now accepting applications for the 2015 cycle to further extend the program’s reach.

This cycle’s grantees embrace the discipline and geographic diversity that is the signature of Museums Connect. Locations in 2014 that are new to the program include Cambodia, Honduras, Jamaica, Mongolia and Romania. Below are brief summaries of these latest projects; further information can be found at www.aam-us.org/museumsconnect:

By the Work of Her Hands: Textile Arts in Morocco and the United States

  • Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies, Tangier, Morocco
  • The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia

College students in Morocco and Philadelphia will document oral histories from female embroidery artists and quilt-makers in the Au Grain de Sesame Collective in Morocco and the Quilters of Color Collective in Brooklyn, New York, to weave stories and preserve a legacy of unique textile traditions. The project will culminate in an online catalogue of the work of the textile artists, an exhibition of documentary photographs to be displayed in both museums and a joint textile project that is a symbolic tapestry of common origins in these distinct textile art forms.

Cities of Peace: Chicago and Phnom Penh

  • Kraing Ta Chan Community Peace Learning Center, Kus Commune, Cambodia
  • Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, Chicago

Teens in Chicago and Phnom Penh will learn various justice practices to advance social equality and community healing. The outcomes of Cities of Peace will include advanced training for youth peace-builders, production of a documentary film and a Youth Peace Summit in Phnom Penh, which will unite thousands of teens to explore the root causes of violence and conflict and reimagine an environment in which global peace and social harmony can flourish.

Common Notes: Connecting Folk Traditions through Technology

  • "Alexandru Ştefulescu" Gorj County Museum, Târgu Jiu, Romania
  • Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences of West Virginia, Charleston

Common Notes delves into the roots of folk music in Romania and West Virginia to enrich the lives of teens through the transcendent power of music—a language that has no boundaries. Students will learn about their folk music and cultural heritage traditions under the tutelage of master musicians. This will ultimately inspire an online musical mash-up, a synthesis of the assonance and dissonance of their music and public concerts.

Citizen-Led Urban Environmental Restoration

  • Natural History Museum of Jamaica, Kingston, Jamaica
  • Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, Miami

Through an exploration of common environmental issues such as invasive species, sea-level rise, urban sprawl and climate change, high school students in Jamaica and Miami will engage in urban habitat restoration and conservation practices. Scientists will partner with museum staff and schools to hone teen participants' science communication skills and stimulate scientific inquiry about conservation through a digital badging project, which will award badges for completed assignments and activities. Through youth empowerment, the project will work across borders to address regional and global climate change.

Cultural Repercussions of Climate Change in Two Communities: A Teenage Viewpoint

  • National Museum of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
  • Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Philadelphia

The model WINS (Women in Natural Sciences) program at the Academy of Natural Sciences will serve as a launching point to empower high school girls in Philadelphia and Ulaanbaatar, working in partnership with scientists, to engage in a deeper understanding of climate education through scientific research, discovery and enrichment. The project will result in the development of after-school program curriculum about climate change variation in different habitats and diverse cultural practices that can be climate change catalysts or deterrents. The students will learn ecological principles in order to guide the visitor experience as Explainers in both museums. 

Defining Culture in Popular Culture

  • Pearl S. Buck Museum, Zhenjiang, China
  • Pearl S. Buck House National Historic Landmark, Perkasie, PA

This project takes inspiration from Pearl S. Buck, who dedicated her career to eradicating, during her lifetime, stereotypes and prejudices that existed between the U.S. and China. High school students will unearth stereotypes and prejudices that persist today between the two cultures in the media and popular culture; participate in youth leadership training about creative problem-solving, global vision understanding and strategic decision-making; and initiate a community service project to champion Buck’s ideals.

e-Mammal International

  • Museo de Paleontologia in Mexico, Guadalajara
  • Bombay Natural History Society, Bombay, India
  • North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh

E-mammal International unites 6th-, 7th- and 8th-grade students in a global-citizen-scientist comparative study in Mexico, India and North Carolina that will employ camera traps in schools to document animal population sizes, activation patterns and habitat use. Results of the camera-trapping study will inform an e-Mammal website that can be accessed by a network of scientists worldwide to illuminate universal understanding of biodiversity.

Common Ground: Connecting Community through Gardens

  • Casa K'inich Children's Museum, Copan, Honduras
  • Monterey County Agricultural & Rural Life Museum, King City, CA

To nurture knowledge and awareness of environmental conservation, students between the ages of 9 and 11, teachers and community service organizations in Honduras and California will engage in the planning and care of an organic garden and forge common bonds around agricultural heritage. This project will cultivate a lifelong appreciation for our natural environment and educate children about their attendant responsibilities through a gardening curriculum that shares the rich agricultural bounty of these countries.

Stories from the Home Planet (Historias de nuestro Planeta)

  • Corporación Parque Explora, Medellin, Colombia
  • James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

Stories from the Home Planet invites teachers, their K-through-12 students and the larger community in Minnesota and Columbia to map bilingual planetarium programming and develop a curriculum focusing on the ways in which astronomy can foretell stories on environmental change and impact. The project will foster a shared understanding of astronomy and earth sciences principles that can be accessed by international planetariums for use in their planetarium domes as live, interactive programs.

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

Anna Griffin
Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
U.S. Department of State