Museums Connect Program
U.S. Embassy Vilnius is pleased to announce the 2012 call for participants in Museums Connect Program.
Museums Connect is a program funded by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) in conjunction with the American Association of Museums (AAM). The program matches museums from around the world with partner organizations in the US to work collaboratively on long-term projects. Each partnership receives funds ($50,000 to $100,000) to divide between the pair of collaborating institutions. Partnered museums use these resources to create an exhibition or program that goes beyond a passive display of information by encouraging community involvement and cross-cultural understanding. Institutions that participate in the Museums Connect program engage local audiences and forge stronger ties to their community while presenting projects in a way that reflects each museum’s unique collections and capabilities.
What kinds of institutions are considered for the program?
Museums that consider community outreach a key component of their mission are exceptional candidates for the Museums Connect program. The US Embassy nominates host-country museums that can formulate a structured project idea, exemplify necessary institutional capacity and are involved in their communities.
What kinds of museums can be considered?
For the purposes of the program, the term 'museum' includes both governmental and private museums of anthropology, art history and natural history, aquariums, art centers, botanical gardens, children's museums, historic sites, nature centers, planetariums, science and technology centers, and zoos.
How do we apply?
Contact the Cultural Attaché at the US Embassy, Ms. Nina Murray at firstname.lastname@example.org, to propose your idea. Interested museums must submit their profiles to ECA by October 15.
For what can we use the funds?
Museums Connect grants do not fund capacity building, staff training, standard exhibition design/object exchange, or artist residencies. The projects funded go beyond traditional exhibit-based exchanges by focusing on community engagement and participation, and support the fundamental objectives of this program: increasing cross-cultural understanding and showcasing the role of cultural institutions as vibrant, engaged, and committed influencers in contemporary society.
What are the selection criteria?
Final selections are approved by
ECA, based on the recommendations of a selection committee, which evaluates the
Final Proposals on the following criteria:
(A) community involvement,
(B) project structure,
(C) increased understanding between the communities,
(D) institutional capacity, and
Additional consideration is given to projects that include one of the cycle's designated themes:
- Addressing Community Challenges: Projects strengthen local communities by tackling critical issues (e.g., empowering women and youth; mitigating religious, cultural, or political tensions; or advocating for human rights), by providing opportunities for civic engagement and volunteerism or by creating a forum for the disengaged or disenfranchised.
- Adapting to Changing Demographics: Projects explore how museums can adapt to the changing culture and demographics of their communities (e.g., shifting age distributions, the implications of global migration, and reaching under-served communities).
- Promoting Disability Rights and Engagement: Projects promote disability rights and foster social inclusion by raising awareness about how to ensure enjoyment of rights by persons with disabilities of all types, including physical, sensory, cognitive, learning, and psycho-social; exploring ways to create an inclusive and accessible society for all; using museum resources to serve the needs of people with disabilities in ways uniquely suited to museums' missions; and by reducing barriers to access and participation.
- Investing in Green Practices: Projects develop innovative strategies for green practices (e.g., sustainable agriculture, renewable and clean energy, food and water conservation, waste reduction, or sustainable tourism) or create models for implementing green practices locally on a grassroots level and/or more broadly on a policy level.
- Developing Amateur Experts: Projects recruit and train community members as active participants in content creation through crowdsourcing, involvement as citizen scientists/citizen historians, and social media commentators as the role of museums changes from the voice of authority to that of mentor, moderator, and clearinghouse of trusted information.
What are some examples of projects that have been funded by Museums Connect in the past?
We, the People: Afghanistan, America, and the Minority Imprint. This collaboration between the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia and the National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul, Afghanistan, sponsored discussion and debate between Afghan and American youth on the meaning of democracy. The institutions also supplied youth with cameras to document their experiences, and assembled a photo collage and oral history exhibit.
At the Table: Connecting Culture, Conversation, and Service in Latvia and the US. This program partnered the National History of Latvia Museum in Riga with the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia to train local students in community outreach. Students documented their own experiences and conducted interviews to create an oral history exhibit as well as an accompanying documentary.