Saturday, December 29, 2012

Supporting African American Art and Artists: Select African American Museums

This is the second of a four part series, focusing on ways to support African American art and artists. Part one in this series appeared on August 13, 2010 with an Addendum featured on July 8, 2012 . This current post focuses on a select group of museums and cultural centers whose missions strongly focus on African American visual arts. This is not a comprehensive list; only eight institutions, from across the country, are featured. However, it does begin a discussion to identify those institutions vying for financial support, gifts, and volunteer services. An effective starting point to identify an even larger number of these institutions begins with the Association of African American Museums (AAAM). Information on AAAM members is accessible by state from their web site. It is important to remember that all museums with a defined focus on African or African American art, history, and/or culture may not be members of the Association of African American Museums.

In order to remain viable and relevant during these critical economic times, these institutions need the collective support of all of us with an interest in African American art. As 2012 comes to a close, this is a great time to renew annual memberships or even consider an upgrade to the next level, perhaps giving a membership as a gift to a friend or relative, or even giving an outright gift to an institution.

Charlotte, North Carolina
The Harvey B. Gantt Center
for African-American Arts + Culture

The Harvey B. Gantt Center has a number of ways to become actively involved  with the Center through its various programs and services. Attending exhibitions and programs, making purchases in the museum shop, and hosting events in its space are a few of the more visible ways of supporting a museum. In addition, consider becoming a member or volunteering time.

The Harvey B. Gantt Center has five different membership levels that include unlimited free admission, private exhibition previews, discounts in the museum store, and the like. Also, there is a Gantt Center newsletter.

Membership is just one way to become involved as an active supporter of the Center. Membership levels begin with Senior Citizen/Student ($35.00) through Benefactor ($500.00). Other opportunities of becoming involved with the Gantt Center is through its Center Society, as a Collectors Circle ($1,000) or Founders Circle ($2,000) member; and becoming a Volunteer Ambassador.

As is the case for any of the museums in this post, one can simply make an outright contribution to support the museum's endeavors.   

Chicago, Illinois
the DuSable, Museum of African American History

Founded in 1961 by teacher and art historian Dr. Margaret Burroughs and other leading Chicago citizens, the DuSable Museum is one of the few independent institutions of its kind in the United States. The DuSable's mission stated quite simply is "to collect, preserve and display artifacts and objects that promote understanding and inspire appreciation of the achievements, contributions, and experiences of African Americans through exhibits, programs, and activities that illustrate African American history, culture and art."

The Museum has six distinct membership levels, ranging from Seniors and Students ($25.00) to Annual Sustainer ($1,000) with each level including the benefits of all lower levels. The DuSable has a volunteer program in which individuals contribute services that directly benefit the mission of the museum, for which there is no financial compensation. Also, there are more ways of giving: Memorial Giving, Endowment Fund, and Challenge Campaign. SEE GIVE.

College Park, Maryland
The David C. Driskell Center...University of Maryland

 The David C. Driskell Center has at its core the preservation of the rich heritage of African American visual art and culture. Founded in 2001, The Driskell Center is "committed to collecting, documenting, and presenting African American art as well as replenishing and expanding the field." Staying true to its mission, "The Center has provided an intellectual home for artists, museum professionals, art administrators, and scholars who are interested in broadening the field of African Diasporic studies." 

Friends of the David C. Driskell Center help the Center to fulfill its goal of serving as a national leader for the study of the visual arts and culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora. To help further their cause see Friends.

Dallas, Texas
African American Museum Dallas

Having one of the largest folk art collections in the country, "The African American Museum is the only one of its kind in the Southwestern Region devoted to the preservation and display of African American artistic, cultural and historical materials."

The Museum has an Annual Gala and Silent Auction that "serves as a fundraiser to maintain and expand the Museum and its offerings through significant programs, workshops, lectures, and other educational services that facilitate awareness and understanding of African American history and culture."  

Membership  benefits minimally include a Museum newsletter, discount on Museum Shop purchases, free or reduced admission. Those benefits are increased by the level of membership. See details at Membership.

Los Angeles, California
California African American Museum

California African American Museum (CAAM) has seven levels of members, ranging from Students ($25.00) to Benefactor ($1,000) that include varying degrees of benefits. These benefits include but are not limited to the following: "exclusive invitations to Members-only receptions, exhibition openings, special symposia, workshops and film screenings, and a subscription to Quarterly Museum Notes Newsletter.

There is an Annual Gala sponsored by the Friends, and the Foundation of the California African American Museum. The 2012 Annual Gala, An Artful Evening, was held on Saturday, October 6, 2012. For this seventh annual event CAAM
and Friends presented well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Awards to Academy Award winner, Sidney Poitier, and United States Gracie Fellow for Visual Arts winner, John Outterbridge. See photo highlights of an Artful Evening at CAAM 2012.

The volunteer program at CAAM began in December 1982. "One component of the volunteer program is councils, of which there are four: the Service Council, the Arts Council, the History Council, and the Docent Council." 

New York, New York
The Studio Museum in Harlem

The Studio Museum in Harlem has eight membership levels within their general membership category, ranging from $25.00 to $1,000. One of the benefits that I cherish from membership is the one-year subscription to the Studio Museum’s highly-regarded magazine Studio. In addition to the general membership levels, there is a special membership category known as the Studio Society which is comprised of major donors to The Studio Museum in Harlem. 

Photo: Julie Skarratt

Each fall, there is the Studio Museum Gala and in the spring there is a Luncheon. On Friday, May 11, 2012, The Studio Museum in Harlem held its sixth annual Spring Luncheon at the Mandarin Oriental New York on Friday, May 11, 2012. This annual event saluted Debra L. Lee, Chairman and CEO, BET Networks. Due to the weather conditions, Gala 2012 was postponed. Contributions to these two events "directly support the Museum's exhibition and education programs." 

In addition to membership and special events, one can become active with the Museum through its volunteer program. The Museum seeks "passionate, dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers to carry out our mission of encouraging a dynamic exchange of ideas about art and society."

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
African American Museum in Philadelphia

Founded in 1976, the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) is the first institution funded by a major municipality to preserve, interpret and exhibit the heritage of African Americans. AAMP has a number of membership levels, ranging from Student and/or Senior ($30.00) to Leon Sullivan Society ($1,000). General benefits include such perks as free admission to the Museum, 10% discount at the Museum Store, and invitations to exhibition openings and special events. More benefits tend to be offered as the cost of the member category increases. To register for African American Museum in Philadelphia membership, See AAMP.

Seattle, Washington
Northwest African American Museum (NAAM)

Northwest African America Museum accomplishes its mission, "to spread knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of the histories, arts and cultures of people of African descent for the enrichment of all," by presenting and preserving the connections between the Pacific Northwest and people of African descent. NAAM investigates and celebrates African American experiences through exhibitions, programs and events.

There are a number of ways to support the Northwest African American Museum. That support might be offered through its Annual Fund Drive, memberships, and volunteer program. There are 3 Donor Categories, ranging from Benefactor Circle ($5.000+), Platinum Circle (up $1,000 - $4,999), and Patron Circle ($500 - $999). The 5 membership levels range from Student/Senior ($20) to Sustaining ($250). For details see Donate.  As with most of the museums, there are volunteer opportunities.

The third feature of this four part series will focus on select galleries and museums in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

No comments:

Post a Comment