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MetLife Foundation Grant to the Detroit Institute of Arts Helps Museum Coordinate Unprecedented Anishnaabe Art and Artifacts Exhibition in Native Community

Monday, November 24, 2008

(Detroit) – The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) was awarded a $100,000 grant from MetLife Foundation to support the exhibition of artworks and artifacts from the Anishnaabe people in their native communities.

The award will support a traveling exhibition of 24–35 objects to four Native American cultural centers located throughout the Great Lakes region. Anishnaabe are the third largest Native American group in the United States—following Cherokee and Navajo—and one of the largest in Canada. More than 300,000 people today recognize their ancestry as Anishnaabe, also known as Ojibwa, Chippewa, Odawa, Ottawa, Saulteaux and Potawatomi. Detroit has always been a crossroads of contact and cultural interaction between the Anishnaabe and the outside world. Anishnaabe rarely, if ever, have the opportunity to see objects from their home communities that are now housed in distant museums and private collections. 

“We are looking forward to working closely with the Ziibiwing Cultural Center and the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation, our two community center partners,” said Dr. David W. Penney, vice president of exhibitions and collections strategies. “We are truly grateful to MetLife Foundation for awarding us this grant to help make that happen.”

The community center exhibition is one part of a an intensive, five-year collaboration directed by the DIA working with an international group of major art museums, smaller community-based cultural centers on reservations and a diverse group of curators, academic scholars, community leaders and artists. One of the main aspects of this broad project, scheduled to begin in 2012, is an internationally significant traveling exhibition composed of more than 120 works of Anishnaabe art. It will originate at the DIA and travel to the Art Gallery of Ontario and two other urban venues. Other facets will include a catalogue and web-based database for the use of Anishnaabe communities and the educational community as a reference resource for Native American art and culture; and web-based curriculum resources for primary, secondary, and university-level students and faculty, producing new knowledge and understanding of the Anishnaabe.

“MetLife Foundation has a long history of partnering with museums to support educational opportunities for people of all ages,” said Sibyl Jacobson, president and CEO, MetLife Foundation. “Museums enrich our lives in many ways, increase understanding of our world and reflect diverse cultural traditions. MetLife Foundation is pleased to make investments in projects that reach out to people in imaginative ways.”

MetLife Foundation created the Museum and Community Connections program to encourage art museums to reach out to large numbers of people of all ages and backgrounds through imaginative programs and exhibits that help promote better understanding and appreciation among all races, cultures, and creeds.

Over 70 proposals were submitted, and 16 museums were awarded grants totaling $1,000,000. DIA was awarded the maximum grant level of $100,000 in this highly competitive program. Winners were selected on the basis of their potential to engage diverse populations in the arts, creativity and innovation, and commitment to community.

MetLife Foundation was established by MetLife to continue the company’s long tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. Grants are made to support health, educational, civic and cultural organizations and programs. The Foundation contributes to arts and cultural organizations, with an emphasis on increasing opportunities for young people, reaching broad audiences through inclusive programming, and making arts more accessible for all people. For more information, please visit

Detroit Institute of Arts hours and admission:
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for senior citizens, and $4 for youth ages 6-17. DIA members are admitted free. For more information, call (313) 833-7900 or see the website at


The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA),located at 5200 Woodward Avenue in Detroit, is one of the premier art museums in the United States and home to more than 60,000 works that comprise a multicultural survey of human creativity from ancient times through the 21st century. From the first van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera's world-renowned Detroit Industry murals (1932–33), the DIA's collection is known for its quality, range, and depth.

Programs are made possible with support from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the City of Detroit.


Shekini Jennings  (313) 494-5242
Pamela Marcil      (313) 833-7899