Mellon Foundation pledges $250 million to reshape monument landscape

Mellon Foundation pledges $250 million to reshape monument landscape

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is pledging $250 million to change the landscape of commemorative monuments in the United States.

The grants issued as part of the funder’s Monuments Project will be distributed to artists, scholars and communities over the course of five years and will be allocated to funding new monuments, memorials or historic storytelling spaces, in addition to contextualizing and relocating existing sites.

Mellon, a funder of ALL ARTS, explained on its website that the grants will “support far-sighted, creative, conversation-shaping work that will catalyze the transformation of our nation’s histories.”

“Statues are not just bodies in bronze, and monuments are not just stone pillars,” Mellon wrote. “They instruct. They lift up the stories of those who are seen, dominate the stories of those who are unseen, and too often propagate menacingly incomplete accounts of our country’s past.”

Mellon noted that the Monuments Project will “unfold in deep collaboration” with artists, scholars, activists and organizations who have “laid the critical foundations for recent conversations and who have long interrogated the politics of race, public space and memorialization.”

To kick off the project, Mellon awarded the independent art and research studio Monument Lab a three-year, $4 million grant. As part of its efforts, the Philadelphia-based team will conduct an audit of monuments throughout the United States.

The announcement arrives as protests against police violence and racial inequality continue, turning a sharpened focus on Confederate monuments and controversial statues in the United States.

“Monuments and memorials instruct us in our understanding of the past,” Mellon said. “They shape powerful national narratives that say some of us ought to be visible and celebrated, and some of us ought to be invisible and ignored.”

The Monuments Project, the foundation explained, is an effort to “ensure that future generations inherit a memorial landscape that venerates and reflects the vast, rich complexity of the American experience, and tells a fuller, more inclusive story of our history and our many different forbearers.”

More information about how to submit a proposal for the Monuments Project can be found here.

Top Image: Statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Va. Photo: Mobilus In Mobili.