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UMBC and Walters Art Museum partner to foster education, programs

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and the Walters Art Museum have announced a partnership to foster collaboration between the two institutions that leaders hope will interest a new generation in museum careers and art study.

The partnership is expected to focus on several areas, including internship and educational opportunities for students at the Baltimore museum, as well as collaboration between college faculty and museum staff on topics related to the museum's collections and programs.

"It's a really great way for two important institutions to come together to strengthen the community," said Greg Simmons, vice president for institutional advancement at UMBC.

The agreement, established in a memorandum of understanding, has no expiration and no money was exchanged.

Julia Marciari-Alexander, the museum's director, said the agreement was two years in the making. It defines areas of common interest and areas of potential collaboration, such as developing a pipeline for under-served undergraduate and graduate students of color to serve as interns or fellows at the Walters, hosting and co-sponsoring exhibitions and conducting joint research activities.

The university and the museum have partnered on a variety of projects in the past. A relationship between the museum and the school's ancient studies department in which students have access to the museum's collection of materials goes back more than 20 years, said Scott Casper, dean of the university's College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

More recently, the two groups have teamed up with Johns Hopkins University for Baltimore SCIART, a summer program which mentors undergraduates in research associated with art conservation. The program, funded by a three-year, $617,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is in its second year.

Representatives from both groups said it was important to create a formal, long-term agreement.

"We share a commitment to inclusive excellence, educating at the highest level and providing education to wide variety of backgrounds," Casper said. "[The agreement] really reflects how we share certain values and aspirations."

Casper said he hopes the partnership will be a way to interest a new generation in museum careers.

Marciari-Alexander said the partnership could help encourage students who may not think their field of study has a connection to the museum field or arts leadership. She cited engineering as an example and said there are four engineers employed by the museum, which has a staff of 150.

Marciari-Alexander said the agreement aligns with the museum's strategic plan to create partnerships with local institutions. UMBC is the fourth group the museum has partnered up with in recent years, in addition to Morgan State University, The Center for Autism and Related Disorders at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and Maryland Institute College of Art.

UMBC has about 14,000 students and is celebrating its 50th anniversary over the course of the current school year.

The museum was founded in 1934 and is Baltimore's Mount Vernon cultural district. There are more than 32,000 items in its collection.

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