The Smithsonian American Art Museum plans to expand its national programs by establishing an education center at the museum’s headquarters. The museum announced Wednesday it had received an $8 million private gift to underwrite the cost of constructing the center.
The additional programs will be located at a 2,300 square foot facility, which will be located on the first floor of the museum at Gallery Place. It will be adjacent to “The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millennium General Assembly,” by James Hampton, a familiar destination within the museum. The folk art collection in the space will be reinstalled. The construction is expected to be completed a year from now.
The center will be open to school groups and researchers at the museum, as well as students and educators participating through video conferences.
The museum declined to name the donor. Elizabeth Broun, the museum’s director, said the museum has wanted a more flexible learning space for some time. “The museum presents its extraordinary collection of American art as a basis for learning at all levels, using original artworks to teach about the American experience,” Broun said in a statement.
The gift includes an endowment to help create new resources for teachers, which will be developed in part by a teacher advisory committee. Currently, the museum’s staff in the last school year interacted with more than 16,000 students through on-site and distance programs. Its distance programs reached 8,000 students.