The Department of Art & Design at Missouri Southern has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) which will be used to help preserve the African Art Collection.

The grant application was filed in January and it required an intensive amount of documentation, including a project overview, narrative and a bibliography. The department was notified it had been approved earlier this month.

“The NEH only funded about 40 percent of applicants this grant cycle,” said Dr. Christine Bentley, associate professor and director of the Spiva Art Gallery. “It speaks to the quality of what the staff is doing. I’m honored they recognized what we’re doing as something that’s significant.”

The collection includes more than 300 pieces of art and artifacts. It was assembled by a former assistant professor of art from pieces donated by John and Pam Finley in 1997, along with other contributors. In 2020 it was selected as one of 75 institutions in the United States to participate in the Collections Assessment for Preservation program.

Bentley said the NEH grant funding will be used to ensure the collection is stored in proper and stable archival conditions.

“We recently moved the collection to a space on the first floor of Spiva Library,” she said. “We’re looking at ensuring that they’re stored with the proper light and humidity, purchasing archival carrier trays, light monitors, display shelving and fabrics for draping that are good for the longevity of the collection.

“Moving forward, we also want to participate in a disaster-response workshop. It would cover what we would need to do in the event of a flood, fire or other disaster.”

The African Art Collection is housed in Room 109 of Spiva Library and is available for viewing by appointment. For more information, contact Bentley at 417-625-3066 or Bentley-C@mssu.edu.