Press Release

Tucson Museum of Art to receive $105,311 from the National Endowment for the Humanities American Rescue Plan Program

Tucson, AZ – TMA was recently awarded $105,311 in funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan program. The grant award supports the project Stories from Clay, an extensive museum collections research project that would utilize digital communication strategies to work directly with Indigenous communities of the Southwest to examine, catalog, and provide context to TMA’s permanent collection of historical Indigenous art pottery. Overall, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded nearly 300 cultural and educational institutions to help them recover from the economic impact of the pandemic, retain and rehire workers, and reopen sites, facilities, and programs. Grant awards were made in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and Northern Mariana Islands.

“TMA was significantly impacted by COVID-19 in a number of ways, resulting in the closing down of operations, profound staff reductions, significant loss of income, and the cancellation of critical and deep collections-based research projects,” said Jeremy Mikolajczak, the Jon and Linda Ender Director and Chief Executive Officer. “Funds from the NEH American Rescue Plan will guarantee that TMA continues to prioritize collections management and research, rather than shifting focus to financial crisis management – working to become a community-based cultural institution that represents and reflects its constituents while enhancing its economic impact in our region.”

TMA is committed to relevance and equity by reflecting and amplifying the diverse heritage and cultures of Southern Arizona and fostering connections to its local communities. Led by Christine Brindza, Senior Curator, Glasser Curator of Art the American West, and Dr. Marianna Pegno, Director of Engagement and Inclusion, Stories from Clay will enable museum staff to research, refine, and share records using community-based approaches and scholarship. This project incorporates  Indigenous knowledge and practices as well as academic research while expanding collections records and interpretation to be reflective of multiple perspectives and expertise. With the funds awarded by the NEH, the museum will focus on assisting existing salaried personnel and establish one new position to support and coordinate collections research, while acting as a liaison between the National NAGPRA program and tribal communities.

“Acting as responsible stewards, TMA seeks to build relationships with source communities of this pottery and gather meaningful context and histories of each piece. This inclusive approach expands traditional curatorial practices and methods of research,” said Christine Brindza, Senior Curator, James and Louise Glasser Curator of Art of the American West.

TMA’s Indigenous Arts collection includes a significant amount of contemporary and historic pottery which primarily derives from communities of the Southwest from the past and present. The historic portion requires dedicated research and assessment as well as Indigenous source community input. In addition, in 2020 alone, 59 Indigenous pottery works dating between 1400 to 1700 were gifted into TMA’s permanent collection from the Sublette Family Foundation, consisting of rare types requiring further study and resources.


About the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block

As an institution built upon the original territories of the O’odham, the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block (TMA) acknowledges the Indigenous Sonoran Desert communities, past and present, who have stewarded this region throughout generations.

TMA connects art to life through meaningful and engaging experiences that inspire discovery, spark creativity, and promote cultural understanding. Founded in 1924, TMA encompasses an entire city block in historic downtown

Tucson and is committed to developing quality exhibitions, expanding, and diversifying its collection and presenting relevant and innovative programs while broadening public access to the arts.

The museum features exhibitions of Modern and Contemporary art, Latin American art from ancient to today, Indigenous arts and Art of the American West. A permanent collection of over 12,000 works of art spans continents, centuries, and media. TMA’s campus includes five properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places, an art education center and research library, the Museum Store, and the highly acclaimed museum restaurant Café a la C’Art.

TMA is a private 501(c)(3) charitable arts and education organization. More info: or (520) 624-2333.

About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 recognizes that the humanities sector is an essential component of economic and civic life in the United States. The Act appropriated supplemental funding to NEH to provide emergency relief to institutions and organizations working in the humanities that have been adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

This program invited applicants from eligible organizations to seek support for humanities positions and projects that have been adversely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Through this funding opportunity, NEH granted awards to museums, libraries and archives, historic sites, independent research institutions, academic presses, professional organizations, colleges and universities, and other humanities organizations across the country to help these entities continue to advance their mission during the interruption of their operations due to the coronavirus pandemic. In keeping with Congress’s intent in enacting the American Rescue Plan, applicants proposed new humanities projects or focus on sustaining core humanities programs and activities.

Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at


Image Credit: Ancestral Hopi, Polychrome Jeddito Style Utilitarian Olla, c. 1475-1550, clay. Collection of the Tucson Museum of Art. Gift of the Sublette Family Foundation for the Arts. 2020.52.26

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