Lehigh University Art Galleries (LUAG) is among 51 museums, libraries, and tribal organizations across the U.S. to receive a $10,000 grant to combat vaccine hesitancy as part of the national initiative Communities for Immunity.
Supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Communities for Immunity provides funding awards and support to museums and libraries engaging their communities to boost COVID-19 vaccine confidence.
“Museums today are places of possibility—where one can not only learn about diverse cultures and perspectives, but also where communities can forge deeper relationships and become more resilient when facing complex challenges,” says William B. Crow, director of LUAG. “Because museums are often cited among the most trusted community institutions, we believe we can play an important role in promoting education about the vaccine and COVID prevention.”
The grant will support a bilingual English-Spanish promotional campaign at LUAG, #DrawTheLineAgainstCovid (#LaLíneaContraCovid), which will provide free sketching kits and one-year memberships to LUAG to all who show proof of vaccination.
The initiative, aligned with the current exhibition Thinking Through Drawing: Works on Paper, Drawings, and Sketchbooks from the Collection and Community, will distribute bilingual information about the vaccine to local residents, in partnership with a range of community organizations, with a focus on individuals who may be vaccine-hesitant. The initiative will be included in a national study that evaluates the range of strategies that museums may wield to help communities in crisis.
In August 2019, LUAG adopted a renewed mission statement, “to advance critical thinking, cultural understanding, and well-being for campus and community through transformative experiences with art,” and is now leveraging its collection of over 17,000 works of art from diverse time periods and cultures to realize this commitment through exhibitions and programs that foster wellness.
Recent programs include workshops and programs that encourage creative expression, stress reduction and mindfulness. LUAG recently mounted the multi-site exhibition Well, Well, Well: Picturing Wellness in the LUAG Collection to mark the launch of Lehigh’s College of Health.
“As we all begin to reimagine what life will be like in a post-pandemic world, we hope that everyone will keep art and art museums front-of-mind as places that support well-being at both the individual and community levels,” says Crow.