Grant will help fund Museum’s school programs and community outreach

The Mint Museum has received a $90,000 grant from The Hearst Foundation, Inc. to support educational programming for children and youth, as well as the teachers who instruct them in art. This is Hearst’s third grant to the Mint. The timing of this renewed support is particularly key as the institution is completing a major expansion project that entails opening a new uptown Charlotte facility.

The grant will help fund the myriad of classes, tours, student art exhibitions, workshops and numerous other learning activities that annually impact approximately 40,000 children and youth, many of whom are underserved and at-risk. The hundreds of teachers who benefit from enrichment opportunities at the Mint each year pass on what they learn to thousands of students, thereby bolstering the K-12 school art curriculum. The high-quality, inclusive educational opportunities offered by the museum are intrinsic to the institution’s mission and give young people a valuable introduction to the arts, instilling in many of them a lifelong interest in and understanding of art and craft.

Research has shown that students who participate in rigorous arts programs are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, and four times more likely to participate in a math or science fair, among other accomplishments. The Mint bolsters the arts in schools by serving as a parallel classroom for K-12 students and an educational resource for teachers. Its collections, exhibitions and programs encourage a thoughtful exploration of human culture that supplements classroom learning in ways that are accessible to students of various ages, socio-economic levels, ethnicities and learning styles.

“It is an honor to receive special recognition and support once more from a national enterprise such as the Hearst Foundation,” said Director of Education Cheryl Palmer. “This grant will help inaugurate the new Mint Museum Uptown and allow us to offer many more educational programs for children, families and schools.”

The Mint Museum Uptown will open in October 2010. One of the centerpieces of this facility will be a 1,845-square-foot Family Gallery, designed as a fun place for families with children ages 18 months to 10 years to feel comfortable with art as they explore activities together. It will incorporate works of art from the permanent collection and hands-on activities, and serve as a family-oriented introduction to the entire museum.

The new museum will feature two studio classrooms to expand the number of painting, drawing, mixed media and clay classes offered for teachers, teens, children and adults. In addition to the studio classrooms, there will be small classrooms on the two gallery levels in the new facility for simple hands-on activities with tour groups. A larger auditorium, educational technology in the galleries, reading areas, and flexible public spaces inside and outside on terraces will be important components to reach a broad audience.

The charitable goals of the Hearst Foundations reflect the philanthropic interests of William Randolph Hearst. The Hearst Foundation, Inc. was founded in 1945 by publisher/philanthropist William Randolph Hearst. In 1948, Mr. Hearst established the California Charities Foundation, renamed the William Randolph Hearst Foundation in 1951. Both Foundations are national private philanthropies operating independently from The Hearst Corporation.

The Hearst Foundations are national philanthropic resources for organizations and institutions working in the fields of education, health, culture and social service. Their goal is to ensure that people of all backgrounds have the opportunity to build healthy, productive and inspiring lives. The Hearst Foundations support programs that enrich the lives of young people by engaging them in cultural activities, primarily through arts-in-education programs. Grants are awarded to major institutions and community organizations in the arts and sciences that address the lack of arts programming in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade curricula by providing comprehensive, on-site and/or outreach education activities.

The two Foundations are managed as one entity, sharing the same funding guidelines, leadership, and staff. Staff based in the headquarters in New York City review all proposals from organizations located east of the Mississippi River, and staff in the San Francisco office review requests from organizations west of the Mississippi.

A new exhibition at ImaginOn: The Joe and Joan Martin Center will not only encourage children to touch the objects on display, but will actively seek their feedback regarding their experiences. Co-developed by The Mint Museum and the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, the exhibition Art Under Construction will feature working models of interactive art activities for families to test out from March 2 – May 10, 2009 at ImaginOn.

The Mint Museum is presently involved in a major expansion project: the construction of a new 145,000-square-foot facility in Center City Charlotte scheduled to open in October 2010. One of the centerpieces of this new facility is a 1,900-square-foot Family Gallery, designed as a fun and educational setting for families to feel comfortable with art as they explore activities together. Families with young children represent an increasing segment of the Charlotte region’s demographics, and this interactive space will make the new museum a welcoming destination for area families with children age two to 10.

The Family Gallery will provide an introduction to the Mint’s collections of American art, contemporary art and international craft and design through creative, collaborative play in a hands-on environment. The aim is to create an intuitive space where the visitors drive the experience. With grant funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Mint is conducting a year of research, visitor studies, prototype development, family testing and formal assessments.

As one of Charlotte’s most popular family destinations, ImaginOn is collaborating with the Mint to conduct testing for the prototypes’ user-friendliness, accessibility, safety and interest. Children will enter a three-dimensional Memories of Mecklenburg house to explore of the collage of renowned Charlotte-born artist Romare Bearden. In My Museum, children are “in charge.” They can create and name sculptures, pose within a 19th century portrait; respond to abstract art and add to a giant weaving wall. Finally, children and parents will be encouraged to share their ideas and suggestions for the future Mint Museum Family Gallery at the Talk-Back wall.