Mellon Foundation Announces Five New Proposals Funded through the Monuments Project

architectural rendering Rendering of the Interpretive Green Bridge at the Great Wall of Los Angeles, a public art project designed by Judy Baca. Courtesy of the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC).

As Part of Mellon’s $250M Commitment Last Fall, New Grants Will Fund Five Projects Focused on Confronting the Past and Shaping the Future by Challenging the Narratives Behind America’s Monuments

NEW YORK, NY,  February 9, 2021 – Today, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation announced five new projects to be funded through its monuments initiative. Launched in October 2020, the Monuments Project is the Foundation’s groundbreaking $250 million grantmaking effort to reimagine and transform commemorative spaces to celebrate America’s diverse history. These grants will be awarded to the Emmett Till Interpretive Center, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), MASS Design Group, Prospect New Orleans, and the Social and Public Art Resource Center.

“Monuments and memorials powerfully shape our understanding of our country’s past, and determine which narratives we honor and celebrate in the American story,” said Elizabeth Alexander, President of the Mellon Foundation. “Future generations ought to inherit an inclusive commemorative landscape that elevates the visionary contributions and remarkable experiences of the many different communities that make up the United States. With these five grants, we are affirming our commitment to support organizations engaged in creating and contextualizing monuments and memorials that convey the extraordinary multiplicity of our complex history.” 

The five grantees and projects are: 

  • Emmett Till Interpretive Center, “Preserving the Legacy of Emmett Till Through Expansion of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center” (Sumner, Mississippi): The grant will give $691,750 in operational funding to the Center to support racial healing efforts that include historic preservation, community building activities in the Mississippi Delta, and a year-long strategic planning process to coordinate the preservation of the Mamie and Emmett Till story across the Mississippi Delta and in Chicago.
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), “Monumental Perspectives” (Los Angeles, California): The grant will provide $1.2 million over three years to support the curation, community engagement, and related public programming for LACMA’s collaboration with Snap Inc. to develop augmented-reality monuments and murals led by local artists and technologists. The program is an effort to celebrate the region’s diversity and use AR technology to reflect the inclusive perspectives from local communities that are often untold. The virtual monuments will be available to see through the Snapchat app. The grant will also support the expansion of Monumental Perspectives to include additional artists in the coming years. 
  • MASS Design Group, “Public Memory and Memorial Lab” (Boston, Massachusetts): The grant will provide $500,000 over two years to support research and work for organizations and individuals who seek to imagine, design, and build new monument projects across the nation. MASS Design Group will provide direct support to organizations on projects that engage memorialization, collective memory, and truth-telling.
  • Prospect New Orleans, “Monuments: A Proposal” (New Orleans, Louisiana): The grant will provide $2 million over two years to support Prospect 5’s headlining artist commissions for the citywide art exhibition in 2021. The exhibition will highlight monuments and their power to both create and complicate history, as well as new public works that engage how the city—still home to ten Confederate monuments—commemorates history.
  • Social and Public Art Resource Center, “The Great Wall of Los Angeles” (Los Angeles, California): The grant will provide $5 million over three years to support the preservation, activation, and expansion of one of the country’s largest monuments to interracial harmony through civic engagement and muralist training. The grant will also support muralist Judy Baca’s Great Wall of Los Angeles and advance the work on the mural while also developing digital techniques and resources for future artists and enhance community engagement.

This announcement follows Mellon’s first major grant issued under the Monuments Project, which was a three-year, $4 million grant to Monument Lab in Philadelphia to support a definitive audit of the existing monument landscape across the United States.

About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation 
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive.