Mellon Foundation Pledges $250 Million To Rethink Nation’s Monuments

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Hundreds of people gather at the Robert E. Lee monument in Richmond, Va., in July. The Mellon Foundation says it will spend $250 million over five years to re-imagine commemorative spaces in the U.S.

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While many cities have removed confederate statues, their removal has also met intense opposition.

Some statues have been toppled. Others remain fiercely guarded.

The nonprofit won’t itself recommend monuments for removal or rethinking, foundation president Elizabeth Alexander told The New York Times. Instead, it will fund projects that are brought to it.

«The beauty of monuments as a rubric is, it’s really a way of asking, ‘How do we say who we are? How do we teach our history in public places?'» Alexander said in an interview with the Times.

The project’s first grant will provide funding to an independent public art and research studio called Monument Lab. The Philadelphia-based studio will use the grant to conduct «a definitive audit» the country’s existing monuments.


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The Mellon Foundation’s monuments project follows an announcement in June that it was revising its mission to put a focus on social justice. The organization has distributed over $7 billion in grants since its founding in 1969.

«The project seeks to ensure that future generations inherit a memorial landscape that venerates and reflects the vast, rich complexity of the American experience,» the foundation said in a statement, «and tells a fuller, more inclusive story of our history.»

  • monument lab
  • mellon foundation
  • U.S.
  • monuments

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