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American Alliance Of Museums Announces 2016 Museums Connect Grants

Category: Press Release


August 16, 2016

Arlington, VA ─ The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) announced six grants with 12 museum partners for the 2016 cycle of the Museums Connect program, including projects in countries and states new to the program. Now in its ninth and final year, Museums Connect is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and AAM. Museums Connect pairs museums and local communities in the United States and abroad for cross-cultural exchanges that bring people, especially youth, together. Participants conduct community projects that address timely social issues, such as women and girls’ empowerment, environmental sustainability, and expanding access to quality education.

“This is a program unlike any other,” said Alliance President and CEO Laura Lott.  “Museums Connect projects create global citizens and foster deep relationships between American and global communities.  AAM is proud to partner with the U.S. Department of State on this extraordinary educational exchange program.”

Since its inception, Museums Connect has linked American museums in 30 states and the District of Columbia with partners in 51 countries, including Afghanistan, Brazil, China, Honduras, India, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and Ukraine, among others.

This year’s grantees embrace the discipline and geographic diversity that is the signature of Museums Connect. Below are brief summaries of all the 2016 projects; further information can be found at

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Reel Stories

  • Arab American National Museum, Dearborn, Michigan
  • Palestinian Heritage Museum, Jerusalem

Reel Stories aims to empower young people by improving the confidence, accomplishments, and imagery of marginalized girls and young women in the communities of metro Detroit and Jerusalem.  This project offers joint programming for a total of 40 teenage girls, ages 14-17 (20/region) who are underserved in the arts. Participants will learn the art of filmmaking, and share their experiences with one another and their counterparts overseas via closed social media outlets, Skype, and immersive cultural exchange.  In addition to technical skill-building in film production, sessions will facilitate dialogue on gender and empowerment, identity and culture, and civic participation.  Courses will culminate in a series of public film screenings in Michigan at the Arab American National Museum and in Jerusalem at the Palestinian Heritage Museum.

Weaving Strands of Knowledge:
Connecting Culture and Science to Climate Change

  • Montshire Museum of Science, Norwich, Vermont
  • Folk Heritage Museum, Thimpu, Bhutan

This project will engage two culturally distinct communities in rural New England and Bhutan in conversations and knowledge sharing focused on urgent issues of environmental sustainability.  An international team of 10 college students (five/region) will collect personal stories of the impact environmental change is having on the lives of people in their countries.  They will co-curate their collection during face-to-face cultural exchange visits and over a virtual platform. This work will help global community members merge scientific data with local narratives of environmental change; help university-aged students to understand the importance of integrating different knowledge systems into community-based science learning and dialogue, and bring international communities together to create programming that enhances understanding of environmental sustainability.  The project will culminate with two full-day environmental sustainability awareness festivals (one at each museum) using the personal narratives collected to stimulate conversations at the local, regional and global level.

Waterways: Connecting Communities

  • Museum Center at 5ive Points, Cleveland, Tennessee
  • Museo de Bellas Artes de la Boca de Artistas Argentinos Benito Quinquela Martin, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Waterways affect the economic, social, cultural, and artistic developments of regions.  In many communities, they influence peoples’ complex cultural identities, which are, in some ways, tied to these waters.  This project engages upwards of 400 teens, aged 14-17, from schools in southeast Tennessee and Buenos Aires to study their waterways in order to develop a greater appreciation of water and to encourage environmentally sustainable habits.  Teens from both communities will conduct historic and environmental research on their local rivers, as well as study artistic and cultural connections, in order to identify the similarities that connect them.  Approximately eight students from each country will travel for an in-person exchange, while all of the teens will share their stories via virtual meetings, a shared website, online and on-site exhibits, a community awareness campaign, community festivals at both locations, and public art projects.

Youth Innovate Community Solutions

  • Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, New York, New York
  • Corporación Parque Explora, Medellín, Colombia

Youth Innovate Community Solutions will connect approximately 25 underserved Latino teens from New York City and approximately 25 at-risk young adults in Medellín, Colombia, aged 14-21.  Working as a team, these youth will explore challenges that their respective communities face.  Together, they will develop creative solutions that apply science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) and link their scientific knowledge with real-world community needs.  The teams will communicate regularly via video conferences and social media tools, such as blog posts (in English and Spanish), and social mapping technology.  Through this project, youth will gain global 21st-century skills and learn to work collaboratively, while developing social awareness and a deeper understanding of one another’s cultures.  The shared experiences of youth in Medellín and New York City will provide inspiration, build community, and empower project participants to apply scientific knowledge to real-life, everyday challenges.

Lifelines/Aspectos Vitais: The Convergence of Arts, Ecology and Culture in the Amazon and New England

  • Stepping Stones Museum for Children, Norwalk, Connecticut
  • Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, Belém, Brazil

Utilizing an Arts in Environmental Education model, approximately 50 American and Brazilian high school students and approximately four teachers will be immersed in an international exploration of watersheds as ecological, cultural, and economic lifelines.  After forming teams, a watershed-focused artwork exchange between the teams will open the project.  Reciprocal travel exchanges will include visits to museum host cities, a research station in the Caxiuanã National Forest of the Brazilian Amazon, study cruises on the Long Island Sound, and visits to historic maritime communities along the Connecticut coastline.  Travel exchanges will combine scientific and cultural activities and will culminate in arts-based presentations to the public.  Digital storytelling projects following each exchange will enable participants to reflect upon these experiences and develop a plan to transfer what they have learned to younger children within their communities.  The project will culminate with exhibitions (online and onsite) at both museums…

Maya from the Margins: Archives and Experiences of History, Identity, and Migration

  • Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Archivo General de Estado de Yucatán, Mérida, Mexico

The story of the Maya diaspora transcends geopolitical borders, and expressions of Maya culture are influenced by the various places where they have settled.  Maya from the Margins is designed to empower minority communities through the recuperation of historical identities, particularly Maya communities that have been disenfranchised through the destruction of ancestral artifacts.  Through social media and creative online discussions, approximately 20 Maya high school students from North Carolina and Yucatán (10/region) will collaboratively produce a museum exhibit focusing on the themes of history, identity, and migration.  As amateur archivists, students will examine historical documents that inform what it means to be an indigenous Maya person and have deep historical roots while considering the impacts of migration on indigenous identities.  The exhibit will travel with both cohorts of students to each country, where students will present their research to their home communities.

About the American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 30,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community. For more information, visit

Media Contacts:

Joseph Klem
Director, Communications
American Alliance of Museums

Department of State/ECA Press

Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
U.S. Department of State

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