Thomas Cole, American (born in England), 1801–1848, Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, 1828, oil on canvas, 100.96 x 138.43 cm (39 3/4 x 54 1/2 in.), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, gift of Martha C. Karolik for the M. and M. Karolik, Collection of American Paintings, 1815–1865, 47.1188, Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Stories & News / Press Releases

First Round of Partners and Programs Announced for New $15 Million Collection-sharing Terra-Art Bridges Initiative

April 5, 2018

Chicago, IL—The Terra Foundation for American Art and Art Bridges announced today the details of the first collaborations for Terra-Art Bridges (TAB), a new $15 million initiative to examine and test new approaches to sharing collections, increasing scholarship, and expanding access to and experiences of American art. As part of the first cycle of grants for TAB more than $2.4 million has been awarded to the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA). The DIA and the MFA will work with regional partners to co-create traveling exhibitions that bring important works of American art to new audiences in largely non-metropolitan areas. In addition to the implementation monies provided to the DIA and the MFA, the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) was awarded a research-and-development grant, and discussions about similar exploratory grants are taking place with the Brooklyn Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM), and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

Terra-Art Bridges is a six-year program that will establish partnerships among a wide range of institutions from across the US, creating a network that is expected to generate exhibitions across more than 80 museums and arts venues and serve a spectrum of audience interests and needs. To ensure participation from museums from every area of the country, TAB is also working with the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) to identify the pool of potential organizational partners. AAM used its own data about the nation’s museums along with interactive mapping tools and data from the U.S. Census to allow the Foundation to identify communities with strong art museums that might benefit from loans of art as envisioned by the project.

“Terra-Art Bridges is an unprecedented multi-year commitment through which a network of museums will share, co-organize, and present innovative and imaginative exhibitions of American art that speak directly to the challenges of audience engagement,” said Elizabeth Glassman, President & CEO of the Terra Foundation for American Art. “As we’ve seen in our many years of international programming, as well as our work in Chicago, including this year’s Art Design Chicago initiative, inviting new voices into the conversation greatly enriches the dialogue about American art. We are immensely proud to join with Art Bridges on this initiative, and to foster research and experimentation that will bring new perspectives to our understanding of American art, and new visitors to museums across the country.”

For its Terra-Art Bridges program, the MFA is developing a six-year collaborative partnership with the Fenimore Art Museum (Cooperstown, NY), Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts (Springfield, MA), Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute (Utica, NY), and the Mattatuck Museum (Waterbury, CT). These partners were chosen in part because of their geography—spreading out across the Northeast—as well as for their collection strengths: the Fenimore has depth in Native American objects and Folk Art; the Munson-Williams-Proctor in period rooms and twentieth-century modernism; the D’Amour in works on paper; and the Mattatuck in twentieth-century design and ephemera.

In the first phase of the project, the MFA will initiate a series of object loans to these partner museums, while colleagues from these institutions will concurrently work together to develop exhibition ideas. This will be followed by the creation of several small-scale exhibitions, drawn from the MFA’s collection, which will be produced with and displayed at each of the partner institutions. The project will culminate in two larger-scale exhibitions that mine the richness of the combined collections of all the partnering museums. Throughout this process, special attention will be paid to audience engagement, and how exhibition content, organization, and installation should change between venues to ensure relevance in different communities.

“Our work with Terra-Art Bridges will make possible an exceptional range of collaborations, extend opportunities for our collection to be seen by new audiences across New England and New York State, while exposing our staff to new objects and approaches,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, Ann and Graham Gund Director of the MFA. “A hallmark of collaboration is mutual exchange and learning, and we look forward to this exchange with colleagues from four great institutions.”

“For us, this partnership opens up incredible opportunities to expand our thinking about both exhibition and audience development,” said Dr. Paul S. D’Ambrosio, President and CEO of the Fenimore Art Museum. “The support from Terra-Art Bridges will help us share information—and objects—with a range of peers, making it possible to rethink how to best draw on our incredible collection, and in turn seek out new audiences for the resulting exhibitions and programs, beginning this summer with Thomas Cole and The Garden of Eden.”

The DIA is developing four exhibitions for Terra-Art Bridges, with a goal of reaching up to 19 Michigan venues over a six-year period. For the first stage of the project, the DIA has developed two exhibitions drawn from the Manoogian Collection of American Art, one of the most important private collections of its kind, which will be presented at up to 11 potential venues over three years. The DIA will also collaborate with Michigan cultural organizations to develop new exhibitions drawn from the DIA’s American, African American, Native American, Folk, and/or Contemporary collections that will serve up to eight additional venues. The DIA will also partner with teachers in schools across Michigan to develop educational programs that complement the exhibitions and facilitate professional development opportunities for staff at all the partnering museums and venues.

Salvador Salort-Pons, director of the Detroit Institute of Arts, commented that “A central element of our vision is to serve audiences across the state of Michigan through statewide programming, and to find new ways of bringing the diversity of our collections to communities that may not have ready access to the DIA. With this support from Terra-Art Bridges, as well as access to the extraordinary Manoogian Collection, we are able to highlight the incredible diversity of American art. We also gain an opportunity to learn from the expertise and experience of other institutions, and to collaborate with them to create exhibitions that address the interests of a range of different audiences.”

About Art Bridges, Inc.

Art Bridges, Inc., is a 501 (c)(3) focused on sharing outstanding works of American art with audiences who have limited access to our country’s rich artistic heritage. Collaborating with museums and institutions of all sizes and in all parts of the country, Art Bridges helps create and fund exhibitions, bringing together artwork from museum partners, private lenders, foundations, and a collection that will be established as a part of Art Bridges. Possible partner institutions range from large museums with deep collections they are unable to fully display, to small and mid-sized museums seeking to share a wider range of artworks with visitors. The exhibitions supported by Art Bridges will include in-depth educational and interpretive materials and will range from single-object loans to fully developed thematic exhibitions. Additional information, including a list of works currently in the Art Bridges’ collection, is available at

About the Terra Foundation for American Art

Since it was established in 1978, the Terra Foundation for American Art has been one of the leading foundations focused on the historical art of the United States. Headquartered in Chicago, it is committed to fostering exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of American art among national and international audiences. To further cross-cultural dialogue on American art, the foundation supports and collaborates on innovative exhibitions, research, publications, and educational programs. Recognizing the importance of experiencing original works of art firsthand, the foundation also provides opportunities for interaction and study through the presentation and ongoing development of its own art collection in Chicago. Implicit in such activities is the belief that art has the potential both to distinguish cultures and to unite them.