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Mellon Foundation Tops $2 Million in Grants to International African American Museum

Grant to Fund Museum’s Film and Multimedia Projects Over a Three-Year Span 

Charleston, S.C. – The Mellon Foundation, a New York-based major arts and humanities philanthropic organization, made its third contribution to the International African American Museum (IAAM), bringing the total philanthropic investment to over $2 million. The first grant of $150,000 was made in 2017 in support of the building construction and chief curator position. The second grant of $1.5 million, made in 2019, supported the capital campaign and the ongoing development of the curatorial department. The third grant of $500,000 is intended to support IAAM film and media projects over a three-year period.

“This most recent grant from Mellon Foundation came from its newest program area, Humanities in Place,” said Dr. Tonya Matthews, president, and CEO of IAAM. “This program is central to fulfilling the Foundation’s social justice mission. I can think of no better public space for such an investment from one of the world’s most prestigious foundations than our museum and bespoke gardens built here at Gadsden’s Wharf. We are honored.”

Film and media will be integral components of the visitor experience at IAAM. As visitors traverse the various galleries and exhibitions, they will encounter over 40 different media and interactives. The media experiences range from small, 12-inch monitors to cinema-size screens. These engagement points feature short films, documentaries, and educational interactives that will give visitors a rich and diverse experience.  In addition to this media in IAAM’s core exhibitions, many of the museum’s rotating exhibitions, which will be featured in the Special Exhibitions Gallery, will spotlight media and film in a variety of ways.


The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through our grants, we seek to build communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. Learn more at mellon.org.


The International African American Museum (IAAM) explores cultures and knowledge systems retained and adapted by Africans in the Americas and the diverse journeys and achievements of these individuals and their descendants in South Carolina, the United States, and throughout the African Diaspora. IAAM is a champion of authentic, empathetic storytelling of American history and is thus one of the nation’s newest platforms for the disruption of institutionalized racism as it evolves today. IAAM honors the untold stories of the African American journey from Charleston, S.C., at the historically sacred site of Gadsden’s Wharf and beyond. For more information, please visit iaamuseum.org or call 843-872-5352.


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