Saratoga County

Tang gets $1.7M foundation grant

The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College has been awarded a $1.

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The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College has been awarded a $1.7 million grant that will used for new teaching programs and two new staff positions.

“It’s a big step forward for us,” John Weber, the Tang’s director, said on Monday.

The Tang museum opened in 2000. It features regularly changing, interdisciplinary exhibits and teaching opportunities that involve Skidmore students and faculty, museum staff members, as well as well-known artists from outside the college.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant is intended to support and enhance programs and exhibits at the Tang museum.

“It’s a tremendous honor to get a grant like this from a major, national foundation,” Weber said. The Mellon grant shows that the museum has gained a national reputation, Weber said.

Weber, who helped write parts of the grant application, said the money will be used for two main initiatives.

One is creating two new positions at the museum: an associate curator and a second museum registrar.

The second initiative is supporting Skidmore faculty members so they can create more exhibits, both small and large, with their students and museum staff.

For example, the popular exhibit, “Molecules that Matter,” was a collaboration among students, artists, curators and chemistry professors. This major exhibit ran from last September until April 13.

“That’s the kind of show the Tang has pioneered,” Weber said about mixing art, science, teaching, and computer technology in a single exhibit.

A key part of the Mellon grant is that the college will use $1.2 million of the grant to create an endowment that will support both the new staff members and the new programming for years to come.

The college will match $1.2 million of the Mellon grant over five years on a three-to-one basis for a total of $4.8 million in endowment money.

Weber said the college and the Tang staff are busy trying to raise the $3.6 million college share. “We have our work cut out for us.”

However, the terms of the grant include $500,000 upfront money so that the college can create the two new positions and expand the collaborative programs even though the endowment money is not yet in place.

“We are still working on the timing,” Weber said about when the new positions will be added. He said they may be created in the coming school year or the year after.

Weber said the museum has only one registrar now to keep track of all museum loan agreements and details of the museum collection. He said a second registrar will be a major step forward, along with an associate museum curator to work with the museum curator, Ian Berry.

The second curator will work with the faculty, organize new projects and coordinate the way students participate in new exhibits.

Weber was hired in 2004 as the Tang’s second director. He had been curator of education and public programs at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for a decade.

“This grant will help us create new ways to engage students and faculty members through interdisciplinary exhibitions of the highest caliber and will foster provocative inquiry across all academic disciplines,” said Skidmore President Philip A. Glotzbach in a statement.

Glotzbach said the awarding of the grant is “an extraordinary endorsement of Skidmore College’s identity as a place where advancement of learning occurs within a profoundly creative, rigorous context.”

Skidmore College is a private liberal arts college of 2,400 student with a campus on North Broadway in Saratoga Springs.

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