Latest News New York

$100K grant from Elkins Foundation to Eternal Gandhi Museum

Houston: The Elkins Foundation, has provided a capital grant of $100,000 to Eternal Gandhi Museum Houston (EGMH) for the construction of the Museum.  It is the second major foundation after Houston Endowment to offer support to EGMH in the early stages of its capital campaign. “We are truly honored and sincerely express our gratitude to The Elkins Foundation for this magnanimous gesture to bring to life a unique civic asset to the cultural landscape of Houston,” EGHM said in a press release. 

Margaret Wiess Elkins and James A. Elkins, Jr. established The Elkins Foundation, in 1956 as a way to help strengthen and enrich the community in which they lived. Today, their descendants continue that work. Under the stewardship of Elise Elkins Joseph, Leslie Elkins Sasser, Virginia Arnold Elkins and an Associate Board representing the next generation, The Elkins Foundation contributes each year to numerous organizations serving Houston and the Greater Gulf Coast.

Eternal Gandhi Museum Houston (EGMH) is an initiative to preserve and continue the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi. The museum will be located in Houston, one of the most diverse cities in the United States. It will be the first ever museum dedicated to peace in the Americas. Its mission is to reinforce the universal values of Truth, Peace, Nonviolence, Love & Service.

EGMH (formerly known as Mahatma Gandhi Library), a 501(C)(3) entity, established in 2002, has undertaken the challenge of establishing a place-based arts initiative. The guiding principle for this project is to create—through the life and work of Gandhi—a thriving, vibrant educational organization aimed at changing the world through its visitors while creating a sustainable and successful new resource for the Greater Houston area. The museum will highlight various world leaders and their journeys depicting the power of peaceful resistance to settle conflicts nonviolently. The ultimate goal is to encourage visitors to embrace these values in their own lives and create positive force for social good.

To initiate this project, they have engaged a reputable museum consultant, with a Smithsonian background. The museum will include exhibits and interpretations that highlight the mission and vision. Additional consultants engaged for this project include a design and build museum firm, architect and an education consultant.

EGMH has acquired 3 acres of land in southwest Houston to house the museum and is launching a capital campaign. The proposed budget for construction is 6.5 million dollars as follows. The capital campaign has reached $ 2.9 million of the required $ 6.5 million. The EGMH Board of Trustees has committed $1.1 million and secured another $0.8 million in private donor commitments. The Houston Endowment Foundation recently awarded a capital grant of $500,000. A concerted fundraising campaign is underway through foundations, corporations and private donors to raise the remaining $3.6 million.

The exhibitions, experiences, and resources are designed to be relevant, timely, and globally focused. Informed by quantitative data and qualitative feedback, the museum programming will engage students and teachers to support the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), the state standards for public schools from kindergarten through 12th grade.

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Latest News USA

Now a museum in DC dedicated to language and reading

Washington DC: Planet Word, a  museum dedicated to the power, beauty, and fun of language and to showing how words shape the human experience, has opened its doors to the public in Washington DC.

Housed in the National Capital’s historic Franklin School, the museum is the world’s first voice-activated one, featuring immersive galleries and exhibits that will engage visitors of all ages in experiencing words and language from a wide range of perspectives. General admission is free.

Among the museum’s voice-activated exhibits is “Where Do Words Come From?” a 22-foot-tall talking word wall that shares the story of the English language through a conversation with visitors and extraordinary light effects.

Other highlights include an acoustically-sealed room where visitors use a teleprompter to deliver one of eight historically significant speeches; a karaoke lounge where music lovers will learn secrets of great songwriting; and a secret poetry nook hidden in the stacks of a magical library.

In other galleries, visitors can create an advertising campaign, literally paint with words using “smart” paint brushes, and converse with native speakers of widely spoken and endangered languages.

According to Planet Word founder and CEO Ann Friedman, “Democracy depends on literate citizens. I hope that Planet Word can provide a forum for civil discourse and a place where our community, in all its vibrant diversity, can gather to share the words that bridge differences and forge solutions.”

The museum held a mostly virtual ceremony to commemorate its public opening in late October. This event featured remarks by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and founder Ann Friedman. It also included remarks by writer and actress Anna Deavere Smith and a performance by spoken word artist Charity Blackwell, as well as a musical performance from Renee Fleming, a freestyle hip hop performance from rapper Christylez Bacon, and a poetic dedication written for the occasion by Naomi Shihab Nye.

The non-profit museum supporters including former President Barack Obama, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Grammy-winning musician Paul Simon also made surprise virtual appearances.

Among the museum’s voice-activated exhibits is “Where Do Words Come From?”, a 22-foot-tall talking word wall that shares the story of the English language through a conversation with visitors and light effects. (Photos: Planet Word)
Among the museum’s voice-activated exhibits is “Where Do Words Come From?”, a 22-foot-tall talking word wall that shares the story of the English language through a conversation with visitors and light effects. (Photos: Planet Word)
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Latest News Lifestyle

Museums in New York City on reopening mode

When the iconic T. Rex at the American Museum of Natural History again welcomes visitors, it will gaze down at humans acting a bit differently. They will still gape up at its massive skeleton, but there will be fewer of them. They’ll stand farther apart and wear masks. Other pandemic precautions will include hand sanitizer stations and one-way signs guiding guests through exhibits.

The museum is like many cultural institutions in the city gingerly reopening their doors, weighing the safety of visitors and staff with the need to educate, inspire and support New York’s recovery.

“We have to re-imagine and re-engineer the museum visit,” says museum President Ellen Futter. “We want to fulfil our civic mission. And we think that our mission has never been more important.”

New York City was by far the hardest-hit US city by the pandemic. It’s also home to world-class cultural institutions that have for decades — and city leaders hope will once again — draw millions.

The Museum of Modern Art opened on Aug 27, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art reopened its Upper East Side home on Aug 29. The American Museum of Natural History plans to reopen to the public on September 9.

City museums will institute a range of precautions, including reduced hours, reserved tickets, mandating masks, limiting attendance to a quarter of capacity, and closing movie theatres, coat rooms and food courts.

Some of the new rules might make future trips to a museum less spontaneous and escapist, but there are some benefits.

“It’s true that it will be less crowded. It also will be more intimate and it may give people a different view of things. I don’t think that will diminish in the least the sense of the visit,” said Futter.

Other institutions need a bit more time. The Guggenheim will reopen on October 3, while the 9/11 Memorial Museum will reopen on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks.


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