The Walter Anderson Museum of Art (WAMA) preserves and celebrates Walter Anderson’s work and philosophy. The American artist captured coastal plants, animals, and people, and spoke to the relationship between humans and the natural world. As part of its mission, WAMA has served the Gulf Coast area as a center for arts enrichment through educational activities, publications, and exhibitions. With the support of an NEH CARES grant, WAMA expanded its educational reach despite the COVID-19 pandemic through the development of “Southern Art/ Wider World,” a series of virtual programs themed around the connections between Southern and American identity.
A series of seven live-streamed dialogues between scholars, community leaders, and the public explored themes such as Blues in the Mississippi Delta, the foodways of the Gulf Coast, and the cultural, historical and environmental significance of the Gulf of Mexico. In a participant survey, 87 percent of respondents agreed that the program helped them better understand the South’s place in our national and/or global world, and 98 percent agreed they were able to see connections between themes explored in the program and contemporary issues in our society. Moreover, qualitative testimonies demonstrated how participants were able to explore aspects of their communities in a new way through the dialogue. One participant wrote: “I have never really thought about how the Gulf has shaped our history and current status. The program helped my understanding of the connection of power of the Gulf and the power of art and nature.”
Facts & Figures
of survey respondents agreed that participating in this event enhanced their sense of connection to their community.
Facts & Figures
of survey respondents reported that they were more likely to participate in other continuing education opportunities as a result of participating in a public lecture event.
The initiative also included the development of a mobile app and a continuing education course. The mobile app shares insights into the museum’s collections, and can be used while touring the exhibition space or remotely. The continuing education course is a self-guided media curriculum featuring edited video segments taken from the live streamed programs, enriched with insights from humanities scholars, contextual readings, and digitized objects from the WAMA collection. WAMA is sharing their processes and lessons learned with other Mississippi cultural institutions to encourage more digital capacity-building across the state.