Museums10, a partnership of ten museums including the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, has been awarded a two-year matching grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council's John and Abigail Adams Arts Program for 2007-2008. This year's award of $75,000 will be used to promote both the Museums10 brand and the upcoming BookMarks exhibition slated for September 2007-January 2008. The amount of the award for the second year will be announced later in 2007.
This is the third consecutive grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council to the museum collaborative. In 2005, Museums10 received funding from the Adams Arts Program to brand their partnership and to set the stage for their first joint exhibition GoDutch! in 2006. The region-wide festival of Dutch art, culture, and horticulture, the first of its kind in the Pioneer Valley, was a key factor in bringing more than 105,000 visitors to the museums during its run from January through August.
"Museums10 has done outstanding work in tapping the region's rich cultural resources to market the area in a unique way," said Mary Kelley, executive director of the MCC. "The project is bringing new visitors to the region, benefiting the cultural organizations and the communities they serve."
"It has been gratifying for all of us to see the Museums10 partnership shape a real identity in the last three years," said Carol Angus, director of communications and publications at Five Colleges, Inc., which facilitates Museum10. "Thanks to the generous support and encouragement of the Massachusetts Cultural Council's John and Abigail Adams Arts Program, Museums10 has gone from being just a good idea to becoming a valuable vehicle for shaping the identity of this region as a cultural nexus."
The mission of the three-year-old partnership is to build a bigger engine for cultural tourism in the region through marketing and cross-promotion of the museums in cooperation with cultural partners and area chambers of commerce. Last year's GoDutch! was the first collective attempt by the museums to compile data about their visitors. Surveys conducted by the museums, Angus said, told Museums10 that 40 percent of their visitors planned to stay overnight in hotels or B&Bs, with 60 percent responding that they were going to eat in restaurants or shop in local stores after their visits.
Museums10 will launch its second major thematic initiative--BookMarks--in the fall of 2007, in cooperation with such community partners as area booksellers. Taking its inspiration from the Valley's rich literary heritage, BookMarks will feature an inviting array of exhibitions, readings, performances, book signings, and demonstrations all celebrating the book. Three weekends in the fall will offer programming shaped around three key themes:
The Art of the Book (September 20-23) kicks off the fall series with an exhibition at Mount Holyoke College Art Museum featuring the highly acclaimed work of the Leithauser brothers, who will be on hand to discuss their work and collaboration. The series continues on October 12-14 with Books Out Loud, which will include opportunities to hear noted authors read from their work at venues throughout the valley; on November 15-18, the focus shifts to The Book: Past and Future, a look at where the book is headed in the digital age and beyond.
Related exhibitions being mounted by the members of Museums10/BookMarks will each celebrate the various ways in which the book has made its mark on human history and development:
- The Emily Dickinson Museum: The Homestead and The Evergreens will explore the intriguing posthumous publication history of The Belle of Amherst, tracing her literary reputation from manuscript to fascicle to book--through the efforts and competing loyalties of family members and intimates in the first 50 years after the poet's death.
- At Historic Deerfield--The Write Stuff: The Material Culture of Literacy: The exhibition looks at the "reading revolution" in the new republic, exploring the objects related to literacy and reading and writing.
- The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College will present Off the Shelf: Artists' Books from the Amherst Library Collection. The exhibition will feature "artists' books," i.e., publications mixing words and pictures in unusual, inventive ways.
"The broad goal of the Adams Arts Program of the Massachusetts Cultural Council is to encourage cultural organizations to partner with various constituencies in the community to benefit the region's economy," Carol Angus said. "With such an exciting array of exhibitions, coupled with all the programming that's being planned by our partnering organizations such as Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, and local booksellers spearheaded by the Odyssey Bookshop, BookMarks is already generating a swell of enthusiasm throughout the Pioneer Valley and beyond." The Council's investment in "the promise of Museums10," she added, "has been crucial to this partnership and to its ability to engage with and contribute to the health of this region on many levels."
There is no cost for businesses and cultural institutions to participate in this unique cross-promotional project. For more information, please contact Tony Maroulis, Museums10 project coordinator.
Museums10 is sponsored in part by the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau, with support from the Amherst Area, Northampton, and Franklin County Chambers of Commerce. Media sponsorship is provided by 88.5 WFCR, NPR News and Music for Western Massachusetts, and Preview magazine.
Museums10 is a partnership of ten outstanding museums--Amherst College Museum of Natural History, Emily Dickinson Museum: The Homestead and The Evergreens, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Hampshire College Art Gallery, Historic Deerfield, Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, National Yiddish Book Center, Smith College Museum of Art, and University Gallery at UMass Amherst--in one gorgeous place: the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts.