Structuring Collaborations: The Opportunities and Challenges of Building Relationships Between Academic Museums and Libraries
“In 2016, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Kress Foundation co-sponsored a summit at University of Miami with the intention of exploring the topic of academic library and museum collaboration, and invited the directors of museums and libraries to participate in workshops towards a better understanding of their roles in relation to one another on campus. In a white paper released following this summit, hosts Jill Deupi, Beaux Arts director and chief curator of the University of Miami’s Lowe Art Museum, and Charles Eckman, dean of libraries and university librarian at the University of Miami, wrote that, “The frequent placement of libraries and museums in disparate academic organizational structures erodes opportunities for intense collaboration and communication around program development.” In 2018, another summit was hosted at Oberlin, with a keynote from Johnetta Cole, former president of Bennett College and Spelman College and former director of Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art. The program explored issues of diversity, inclusion and equity, as well as structural examples of collaboration with a focus on user-centered programming. During this period the Mellon Foundation awarded a number of grants to foster collaboration between these campus units.
In 2019 Ithaka S+R received funding from the Mellon Foundation to study the structural relationships between academic museums and libraries. Ithaka S+R conducted interviews with museum and library directors, and in some cases other senior staff, at thirty universities. Based on these interviews, three institutions were selected for short case studies as examples of effective collaborations: University of Iowa, the Atlanta University Center, and Princeton University.”
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