NM Delegation Applauds Museum Grants to Enhance Inclusion Programs

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) announced that the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded $331,198 to the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, the Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum, and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

“New Mexico’s museums share our state’s culture, knowledge and heritage—and every New Mexican should have access to what these institutions of learning have to offer,” Udall said. “Whether it is the interactive STEM exhibits at Explora that inspire a new generation of scientists, the preservation and continued support for Native cultures in New Mexico or the legacy of one of our country’s greatest artists, all children and adults should be able to enjoy and gain new experiences and perspectives from these museums. Amid a national reckoning on who is included in our institutions, I will continue to push for expanding resources to welcome people of all backgrounds to learn from the cultural treasures in New Mexico.”

“Our artists and museums play an essential role in shaping New Mexico’s heritage and culture—from those whose work reflects centuries of tradition to those breaking new creative ground,” said Heinrich. “I am proud to support this funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services that will allow creativity to continue to flourish in New Mexico, support the local economy, and draw visitors from around the world to the Land of Enchantment. As we continue to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, I will keep fighting to support funding and resources to preserve New Mexico’s vibrant arts community and creative economy.”

“Museums open the minds of children and adults to new ideas, cultures, and worlds,” said Luján. “This funding will help the Wheelwright Museum, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, and Explora bolster programming and increase their communities’ access to art, culture, and science learning. I’m pleased to see our state’s small museums receive this investment, and I’ll continue working to ensure New Mexico’s cultural institutions get the federal support they deserve.”

“New Mexico’s museums celebrate our history and culture and bring people from across the globe to our state, but often museums lack the resources to archive the complex histories of the cultures that make our state so special and start new programs for locals. The grants we’re announcing today will help Explora’s Science Center reach more kids, the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian celebrate our living traditions, and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum expand their mission to celebrate an incredible woman artist right here in our state,” said Haaland.

“Growing up in New Mexico, I’ve seen how our many cultures, shared traditions, and heritages shape who we are. By supporting our smaller museums, we are investing in preserving our deep history and encouraging reflection, in addition to increasing access to learning opportunities. I look forward to seeing this program grow,” said Torres Small.

The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian will use the grant awarded through the Inspire! Grants for Small Museums program to improve protection, sustainable preservation, and access to its collection of jewelry, metalwork, carvings, basketry, folk art and textiles of the Navajo, Rio Grande Pueblos, and other Native peoples of New Mexico. Inspire! Grants for Small Museums is a special initiative of the Museums for America program. The initiative is designed to help small museums implement projects that expand outreach services including lifelong learning initiatives, programs that engage and support local community and other efforts to increase access to the public.

The Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum will use the grant, awarded through the Museums for America program, to develop “Planting Seeds of STEM,” a project to address the under-representation of people of color in STEM courses and careers. Through informal science education programming that focuses on the STEM concepts inherent in the agricultural traditions of New Mexico, the project will engage students from communities of color in STEM. Museums for America is the IMLS's largest discretionary grant program for museums, and supports projects that strengthen the ability of an individual museum to serve its public.

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum will use the grant, was awarded through the Museums Empowered program, to conduct an extensive two-year professional development program to build capacity in diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion for all staff, board and volunteers. Museums Empowered is a special initiative of the Museums for America grant program with the goal of strengthening the ability of an individual museum to serve its public through professional development activities that cut across various departments to generate systemic change within the museum.

A breakdown of grants is below:

-          Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, $36,636

-          Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum, $117,020

-          Georgia O’Keefe Museum, $177,542