BURLINGTON, VT - The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced that the University of Vermont’s Fleming Museum of Art is one of nine Vermont arts and cultural organizations to receive a highly competitive direct grant through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to mitigate the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NEA reviewed more than 3,110 eligible CARES Act applications from across the US, requesting approximately $157 million and were able to support 855 projects, with funds for direct grants totaling approximately $44.5 million. The total amount received by Vermont arts and cultural organizations is $629,154.
The NEH received more than 2,300 eligible applications from cultural organizations requesting more than $370 million and were able to support 317 projects, with funds for direct grants totaling approximately $40.3 million.
The Fleming Museum of Art will receive just over $69,000 to produce virtual and remote visitor engagement content. Included in the award are funds for new equipment purchases and local consulting contracts, and funds to offset the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis. “We are honored and delighted to receive this federal funding through the National Endowment for the Humanities, enabling us to produce vibrant online and remote content on a range of platforms,” said Fleming Director Janie Cohen, “we look forward to welcoming our visitors back through our doors, but also to providing a choice of ways to experience the Fleming’s offerings from home.”
With the physical closure of the Fleming, the Museum’s strategic response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been to continue to serve the institution’s many audiences by pivoting from an on-premise focus of direct experience to one that is virtual and based online. To maintain both a high level of service and cultural relevance the Museum has implemented a number of core initiatives and will use the funds provided from this grant to continue and expand upon that work.
This spring, during the pandemic closure, the Museum launched an online collections database portal that enables visitors to our website to explore and search over 25,000 objects in our permanent collection. Guests are able to become virtual curators and create their own online collections based on their interests and explorations. In addition, the Museum has remotely produced a series of informative videos on the spring 2020 exhibition, Let’s Have a Ball! Wood Gaylor and the New York Art Scene, 1913–1936, that offers a rich and immersive experience in lieu of physically viewing the artwork in person.
“Our success with these virtual endeavors has encouraged us to broaden the scope of our work and, in doing so, not only fulfill our mission but also retain the staff and student-workers whose might be affected by the closure of the Museum, ongoing social-distancing mandates, and the financial impact of the pandemic,” said Chris Dissinger, the Museum’s assistant director and manager of outreach and visitor engagement.
The Museum will expand on what they have already achieved and produce a rich portfolio of both online and interactive programming. Examples of what we are planning include:
• virtual online tours crafted in response to the requests of K-12 classes
• live-stream video discussions between artist and curator
• professionally produced video productions with evergreen content that both explores and contemplates objects and themes in our permanent collection
• a regular podcast series exploring little-known aspects of our collection
• leveraging our newly released online collections access into new visitor experiences
This grant will allow for the training of staff to produce this new video and audio content, with a comparatively smaller portion of the award allowing for the purchase of the necessary basic technology.
The Museum currently plans to open after Labor Day with a new exhibition that explores through our permanent collection some of the urgent issues facing us today. COVID-19 safety precautions will be in place including social distancing, mandatory masks, and a continuous cleaning and disinfecting schedule. Further details about our opening and exhibtion and program offerings will be provided later this summer.
The University of Vermont’s Fleming Museum of Art serves as a gateway for active cultural exchange and critical thinking and has presented diverse artistic traditions for over 85 years. The Museum is Vermont’s premier public showplace for exhibitions, education, and scholarship about local and world cultures, both historical and contemporary. For more information please visit the Fleming Museum’s website at www.flemingmuseum.org.
The Fleming Museum of Art is deeply grateful to the generous sponsors who helped us to realize our goal of bringing our collections online including the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the 1675 Foundation, Joan Kalkin and Eugene Kalkin ’50, and James and Judith Pizzagalli.