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Springfield Museums Install Climate Control System to Preserve Historic Art Thanks to Cultural Facilities Fund Grant

March 6, 2012

Kelsey Abbruzzese, MassDevelopment, 617-330-2086 & 617-448-9077
Greg Liakos, Mass. Cultural Council, (617) 727-3668, ext. 343
Sara Orr, Springfield Museums, 413-263-6800, ext. 459

MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council have provided a $250,000 Cultural Facilities Fund grant to the Springfield Library & Museums Association, which has a downtown campus of five art, science, and history museums in addition to the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden. The organization will use the grant to install climate modification systems and repair the roof and skylights of the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum.

The Museum boasts extensive collections of Japanese arms and armor, ivory carvings, intricate lacquers, and ceramics, along with the largest collection of Chinese cloisonné – an ancient metalworking technique – in the Western world. The Museum’s collection of Middle Eastern rugs is among the most highly regarded in the United States.

“MassDevelopment is pleased to support the Association’s efforts to preserve its priceless collection,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones. “In The Lorax, Springfield native son Dr. Seuss recognized the importance of protecting our earth’s valuable resources, and this grant will help build on that legacy.”

George Walter Vincent Smith was a leading 19th-century collector of Chinese, Japanese, and Middle Eastern art, as well as 19th-century American paintings. Built in 1895 in the style of an Italian villa, the Museum also has a rare collection of 48 plaster casts of ancient sculptures, made from molds taken directly from the original masterpieces.

“We are extremely grateful to MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council for awarding us this grant,” said Holly Smith-Bové, President of the Springfield Museums. “It is essential that we protect and preserve for future generations the beautiful historic museum building that contains these culturally significant collections, and this funding will help us accomplish that.”

MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council administer the Cultural Facilities Fund, an initiative of the Commonwealth to increase public and private investment in cultural facilities throughout the state. Created by the Massachusetts Legislature in 2006, the Fund offers capital grants, feasibility and technical assistance grants, and systems replacement grants for eligible nonprofits engaged in the arts, humanities, or interpretive sciences. The Fund has awarded more than $44 million in grants to more than 200 cultural organizations across Massachusetts. For more information, visit the MassDevelopment and Massachusetts Cultural Council websites.

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2011, MassDevelopment financed or managed more than 300 projects generating investment of $3.8 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are projected to create more than 10,000 jobs (2,547 permanent and 8,129 construction), and build or rehabilitate more than 1,000 residential units.