The Walton Family Foundation and the Terra Foundation for American Art will partner with New York-based nonprofit Smarthistory to increase access to and understanding of American history and art. With the foundations’ support, Smarthistory will develop and distribute “Seeing America,” a free, multi-media platform for students, educators and independent learners drawing on the expertise and collections of participating museums from across the country.
“We are proud to partner with the Walton Family Foundation and Terra Foundation for American Art on this groundbreaking initiative,” Beth Harris, Smarthistory executive director, said in a news release. “Seeing America will give learners of all ages unprecedented access to American art and history in their classrooms, institutions and homes.”
Smarthistory, according to the release, hosts a collection of free, online videos and essays covering art from the Paleolithic era to present day. “Seeing America” will build on that initiative, according to the release. From late 2017 through February 2020, Sharthistory will work with a consortium of museum partners, academics and educators to create and compile essays, videos and curriculum. Online materials will be designed for students and educators in high school and college-level American history and art history courses, as well as museum professionals and Smarthistory visitors.
The free, online platform will cover diverse stories from a variety of international and intercultural perspectives, according to the release. It will encompass seven broad themes drawn from the Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. History Standards: national identity; politics and power; work, exchange and technology; culture and society; migration and settlement; geography and the environment; and America and the world. The resource is also beneficial in non-AP instruction.
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville will serve as Smarthistory’s lead partner on the project. Other partners include the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, Denver Art Museum, Fine Art Museum of San Francisco, Mia (Minneapolis Institute of Art), National Museum of the American Indian (Smithsonian Institution), Philadelphia Museum of Art, Portland Art Museum, Toledo Museum of Art and Wadsworth Atheneum for the first and second phases.
Additional art museums will join the third phase in February 2019.