The McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has been awarded a grant of $145,000 from the Terra Foundation for American Art in support of the upcoming exhibition “A Sense of Indigenous Place: Native American Voices and the Mound at University of Tennessee.” Opening in early 2025, the exhibition is part of an effort to change perceptions and educate audiences about the Mound on the UT campus by centering Native perspectives and interpretations.
Featuring contemporary works by Native artists, “A Sense of Indigenous Place” will explore Native American mounds, placemaking and the continuity of mounds as sacred spaces. The two-year exhibition will ask challenging questions about who owns these spaces and discuss how mounds continue to shape Native culture and art.
“This new exhibition is a testament to the critical role that the McClung Museum plays in connecting the university to the community,” said Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor John Zomchick. “It is evidence of UT’s continuing commitment to honoring the Native nations connected to this land.”
Four Native nations with historic ties to Knox County have agreed to collaborate as co-curators of the exhibition: the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the Cherokee Nation, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, and the Muscogee Nation of Oklahoma. The exhibition is co-curated by Lisa King, associate professor of English, and Cat Shteynberg, the museum’s assistant director and curator of exhibitions.
“This project is at the heart of our new mission development at the museum,” said Shteynberg, who is the lead principal investigator of the grant. “The most important outcome is the strengthening of relationships and trust between the museum and Native nation communities. This co-curation and collaboration with our Native nation partners will guide us in new and exciting directions.”
The McClung Museum also received a $300,000 grant in support of the exhibition from the Henry Luce Foundation in early 2022. Funding from both foundations reflects a recognized need for broader stories of American art.
“The funding that we have received for “A Sense of Indigenous Place” is transformative,” said McClung Museum Jefferson Chapman Executive Director and co-principal investigator Claudio Gómez. “It will help us create an engaging experience that not only showcases extraordinary Native artists but also emphasizes the vital role that candid conversations and shared decision-making play in making an exhibition like this possible.”
The Terra Foundation for American Art, which was established in 1978 and has offices in Chicago and Paris, supports organizations and individuals locally and globally with the aim of fostering intercultural dialogues and encouraging transformative practices that expand narratives of American art through its grant program, collection and initiatives. Funding from the foundation will support the exhibition fabrication and design. The larger project includes a related website, educational outreach and programming, and coordinating traditional care of the Mound.
Related educational programming will include a robust lecture series, university and K-12 coursework development and tours, adult programming, community and family days, and a K-12 workshop helping teachers better integrate Native voices into their curriculum and state standards.
About the McClung Museum
The McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture is at 1327 Circle Park Drive. Museum admission is free, and hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Visitors can register at tiny.utk.edu/visitmcclung and review visitor guidelines, parking information and the check-in process.
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