UCLA received a $1.38 million grant to fund a three-year endeavor that expands the Fowler Museum’s ongoing study of religious and spiritual traditions in Los Angeles and beyond, it was announced Monday.
“With a focus on exploring the multisensory experiences of religion, the project addresses the urgent need to increase community participation in exhibitions, digital learning and public programs,” according to a statement released by museum officials.
They said the Lilly Endowment grant, the largest foundation grant in the museum’s history, `will enable the Fowler to implement new digital learning activities and provide curatorial and educational outreach support, as well as offer stipends for community partners and visiting artists.”
The Fowler is one of 18 organizations — and the only museum on the West Coast — to receive grants totaling more than $43 million through the Lilly Endowment’s Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative, which supports development of exhibitions and educational programs about the role of religion in the U.S. and around the world, with the goal of fostering public understanding of religion and honoring the contributions that people of all religious communities make to civic well-being.
“This grant offers us a transformational opportunity to expand our engagement with religion and sacred arts by launching an exciting series of temporary exhibitions highlighting religious diversity in Southern California, featuring the visual cultures of Jainism, Sikhism, and Yoruba Orisha practices,” said project co-director and Senior Curator Patrick A. Polk. “It also allows us to reimagine elements of our permanent collection exhibition, Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives.”
The Lilly Endowment grant also supports a digital educational initiative, “Art Stories,” which explores religious objects in the Fowler’s global collection through a range of media interviews, dance performances, photography and music.
“Amplifying the voices of Black, Indigenous and people of color whose heritages are represented by these objects, the project recognizes the indispensable knowledge of our city’s communities,” according to a Fowler statement.
Public programs funded by Lilly Endowment will take Fowler audiences off campus and into Los Angeles neighborhoods to explore the city’s religious festivals, sacred sites and ephemera.
“These programs planned in full partnership with community members will prompt new conversations and provide a platform for building and fortifying campus-city relationships,” said project co-director and Director of Education and Interpretation Amy Landau. “They also ensure that the experiences of religion and spirituality be considered in experimental and innovative ways.”
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