LOGAN, Utah — The Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art at Utah State University has received $750,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support the construction of a new Art Research and Education Center on the Logan campus.
NEHMA is one of only two organizations in the country to receive that large of a sum — the maximum amount possible — from the NEH, which awarded $24.7 million total in federal grants this cycle to cultural institutions across the United States. The National Endowment for the Humanities grant is the largest federal grant for the arts received to date at USU.
NEHMA also received a $310,000 Cultural Capital Facilities Grant from the Utah Division of Arts & Museums, the largest of all grants awarded by the division.
“The Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art is a treasured asset on our campus,” said USU President Noelle E. Cockett. “We are fortunate to have such an extraordinary art collection here at Utah State University for our students and community. The new Art Research and Education Center will provide educational opportunities for the 21st century, and we are honored that the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Utah Division of Arts & Museums have provided funding for this initiative.”
This is the first time the state has offered grant funding for arts facilities, allocating $2 million, and is a significant demonstration of their support for the arts in Utah.
“NEHMA is a unique learning resource because it has something for any college course or student, regardless of discipline,” said USU Executive Vice President and Provost Francis Galey. “The museum’s extensive K-12 programming supports core academic standards as well as community programs. Our museum, and the new Art Research and Education Center, demonstrate that we take seriously our mission as a land-grant institution to provide access to education.”
Katie Lee-Koven, executive director and chief curator at NEHMA, said the total cost of the new facility is projected to be $6.2 million. In addition to the recently awarded grants, NEHMA has secured a private gift of $2.8 million and continues to look for private donations.
“The purpose of the new NEHMA Art Research and Education Center is twofold: to support 21st-century learning needs — including space for students and learners of all ages, scholars, and the local community to engage with art and collections in a way that complements the museum’s current offerings — and to accommodate and preserve the museum’s growing collection,” Lee-Koven said.
“In this facility, visitors will have more access and interaction with artwork on the main floor, which includes an open work area/classroom, research library, and visible storage component,” Lee-Koven added. “The visible storage really allows us to show how museums ‘do what we do’ caring for these collections and will allow artworks to be displayed in protective cases on a rotating basis or at the request of researchers or teachers. We envision the upper level as a classroom for arts education courses at USU, K-12 classes, and community classes. The basement will provide more compacted visible storage for future collection growth. Visitors will be able to use the new facility in a customized way to support curriculum and academic needs as well as personal research projects. Really, this facility has the capacity to add quality to the depth of learning we offer and complement the existing museum with interactive learning opportunities.”
As the only art museum within an 80-mile radius, NEHMA is a cultural hub for Cache Valley and surrounding rural communities in northern Utah and southern Idaho and serves the entire state through a variety of outreach activities. As the communities served continue to grow and diversify, NEHMA is committed to responding to their cultural, artistic, and educational needs. A significant component of this is the expansion and diversification of the museum’s collection as well. The facility will create valuable art resources for students, faculty, and the greater community.
Plans for the project will be included in the upcoming exhibition “Looking Backward & Forward: Forty Years with NEHMA & What’s Next,” which celebrates the museum’s 40th anniversary through selections from the collection’s past — one artwork from each year — and a preview of the collection’s future.