Arts & Entertainment, Government, and Higher Education

Museum wins grant from National Endowment for the Arts

May 26, 2015
| By Pat Evans |
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The Grand Rapids Art Museum is the first newly constructed LEED Gold certified art museum in the world. Photo via

A downtown museum has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for one of its programs.

In its second major grant announcement in 2015, the National Endowment for the Arts, or NEA, will award the Grand Rapids Art Museum $15,000 for its arts and literacy program, Language Artists: Creature Connections.

“The NEA is committed to advancing learning, fueling creativity and celebrating the arts in cities and towns across the United States,” said Jane Chu, chairwoman, NEA.

“Funding these new projects like the one from the Grand Rapids Art Museum represents an investment in both local communities and our nation’s creative vitality.”

The NEA will award $74.3 million this year.

Language Artists

As a strategic partnership with Grand Rapids Public Schools, or GRPS, and six other school districts, Language Artists combines art with a year-long unit of study, promoting student achievement and cultural citizenship.

“Since the program’s inception in 2010, we have witnessed thousands of students becoming more engaged in their learning,” said Jon Carfagno, director of learning and audience engagement, GRAM.

He added that the program “empowers students to make a strong connection to their local art museum, while building essential literacy skills.”

GRAM serves 100 percent of GRPS third-grade students with direct engagement with collections, exhibitions, docents and staff.

The program began with 1,300 students in 2010 and has grown to serve 2,351 this school year. GRPS has incorporated Language Artists into its language arts curriculum through 2018.

“Language Artists is one of the most remarkable learning experiences inside and outside the classroom weaving together art and literacy,” said Teresa Weatherall Neal, superintendent, GRPS. “We have actually used Language Artists as a model for how we should transform our field trip experiences to ensure more meaningful teaching and learning.” 

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