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

Art Bridges-Terra Foundation Initiative

Art Bridges, Inc., and the Terra Foundation for American Art have developed a six-year initiative that serves audiences with less access to fine art, connecting collections-rich museums with institutions in primarily non-metropolitan areas across the country. The initiative expects to generate exhibitions at more than 80 museums and arts venues and meet a spectrum of audience interests and needs. The initiative aims to:

  • Expand access to meaningful works of American art and ideas among American audiences with less previous access;
  • Create opportunities for the collaborative curation of exhibitions with specific communities in mind;
  • Encourage professional development exchange among all partner museums; and
  • Broaden the relevance of museums in the 21st century by piloting new exhibitions to engage nontraditional museum-goers.

These grants, offered through invitation, will support the co-creation of a series of exhibitions on art of the United States that range from single-object installations to large exhibitions. The content-rich exhibitions supported by the initiative will engage local audiences and include in-depth educational and interpretive materials. Integral to this collaboration is the inclusion of planned professional development opportunities among the partners.

Presenting institutions will also be supported directly by Art Bridges, Inc., for related programming, community outreach, audience engagement, and evaluation.


Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

For its Art Bridges-Terra Foundation 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 Art Bridges and the Terra Foundation 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.”

Detroit Institute of Arts

The DIA is developing four exhibitions for its Art Bridges-Terra Foundation program, 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 Art Bridges and the Terra Foundation, 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.”


Visions of American Life: Paintings from the Manoogian Collection, 1850–1940
Bonifas Art Center
Escanaba, Michigan
April 5–May 23, 2018

Thomas Cole and The Garden of Eden
Fenimore Art Museum
Cooperstown, New York
May 25–September 30, 2018

American Spectacle: Paintings from the Manoogian Collection
Grand Rapids Art Museum
Grand Rapids, Michigan
June 8–August 5, 2018

Thomas Hart Benton: A Visiting Masterpiece from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts
D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, Early 20th Century American Art Gallery
Springfield, Massachusetts
June 19–December 30, 2018

Mattatuck Museum
Waterbury, Connecticut
June 24–September 2, 2018

American Spectacle: Paintings from the Manoogian Collection
Clinton Arts Center
Clinton, Michigan
August 12–October 7, 2018

Visions of American Life: Paintings from the Manoogian Collection, 1850–1940
Dennos Museum Center
Traverse City, Michigan
October 21, 2018–January 20, 2019

Journeys and Dreams: Elihu Vedder’sThe Questioner of the Sphinx”
Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute
Utica, New York
January 19–July 28, 2019

American Spectacle: Paintings from the Manoogian Collection
Muskegon Museum of Art
Muskegon, Michigan
February 14–April 28, 2019

Visions of American Life: Paintings from the Manoogian Collection, 1850–1940
Flint Institute of Arts
Flint, Michigan
September 21–December 30, 2019

Art Bridges-Terra Foundation Initiative in the News

Press release

Art Exhibits Fill Galleries at the Mattatuck, July 8, Republican American

Two Eras of ‘Icebergs!’ On Exhibit at Mattatuck, June 29, Hartford Courant

‘Thomas Cole and The Garden of Eden’ at Fenimore Art Museum, June 29, WAMC Northeast Public Radio

Boston Museum of Fine Arts To Exhibit Masterpieces in Springfield, Other Museums, April 7, MassLive

MWPAI To Share Collections with Boston Museum, April 6, Observer Dispatch

First Round of Partners and Programs Announced by Terra-Art Bridges Initiative, April 6, Apollo

The Terra Foundation and Alice Walton Join Forces, April 6, Artnet

For Collection-sharing Initiative, Terra Foundation and Art Bridges Tap Detroit Institute of Arts, MFA Boston, April 6, Artnews

Bridging the Divide: Terra Foundation and Art Bridges Fund Collaborative Programming between Major Art Institutions and Smaller, Regional Venues, April 5, The Art Newspaper

MFA To Partner with Regional Museums, April 5, Boston Globe