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Berman Museum Receives NEA Art Works Grant

A grant from the National Endowment of the Arts will fund the first guest-curated exhibition next summer.

The NEA has approved a $20,000 Art Works grant for the Berman Museum, which is part of $82 million awarded by the organization to arts projects across the country and will support The Blob at the Berman Museum in August 2018.

Taking its inspiration from the 1958 science fiction horror film of the same name, the exhibition will include works that consider the most anxiety-inducing elements of our current time, and critically reflects on what is “Blob-like” today, including constant surveillance, ubiquitous technology, and environmental contamination.

“Over the past few years the Berman Museum has been advancing the notion that exhibitions driven by ideas will be a cornerstone of our mission. Having the NEA support this very innovative exhibition is a testament to the notion that on a liberal arts campus like Ursinus, risk-taking is an essential aspect of daily thinking,” says Charles Stainback, director of the Berman Museum.

The NEA is the only funder in the country to support arts activities in all 50 states and five U.S. jurisdictions. In this second round of funding for fiscal year 2017, it awarded 1,029 Arts Works grants ranging from $10,000 to $100,000.

Featuring work by 12 emerging and established artists and artist duos, The Blob aims to spark dialogue among its visitors by addressing complex ideas affecting many aspects of society today, says Ginny Kollak, who will serve as guest curator of the exhibition.

“The movie The Blob remains a cult classic because it combines a kitsch sensibility with enduring relevance; the fear of absorption and envelopment by the unknown is still common today,” Kollak says. “Similarly, the art presented in this exhibition explores the anticipation of an uncertain future.”

Working with Phoenixville’s Colonial Theatre as a community partner, the Berman Museum will present a pop-up preview exhibition during summer 2018 in downtown Phoenixville during the town’s annual Blobfest. 

Other planned public programs will include a continuation of the Berman’s popular Conversations series featuring Ursinus community members in dialogue with exhibiting artists, curator’s tours, and structured class visits geared toward college, high school, and middle school students.

The Berman Museum, located on the Ursinus College campus, is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is closed Mondays. Admission is free. It is one of about three percent of museums nationwide accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. For more information about the Berman Museum, visit ursinus.edu/berman.

Earlier this year, Ursinus College received a $1.25 million commitment from the Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation to create a permanent endowment and provide current-use funding for the Berman Museum. The endowment will be invested to support the Berman Museum’s exhibition program in perpetuity. –By Ed Moorhouse