GRAM to Receive Award from National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced its award to the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) today as part of their second round of funding for fiscal year 2017. The $35,000 award will support the Museum’s 2018 exhibition Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle (Jan. 27 – April 28, 2018).

As the only funder in the country to support arts activities in all 50 states and five U.S. jurisdictions, the NEA will award 1,195 grants totaling $82.06 million in this round of funding.

Funding and support by the NEA gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities.

“The arts reflect the vision, energy, and talent of America’s artists and arts organizations,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support organizations such as the Grand Rapids Art Museum, in serving their communities by providing excellent and accessible arts experiences.”

Organized by the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle is a solo exhibition by contemporary artist Alexis Rockman, celebrating the past, present, and future of the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Cycle explores the factors that have shaped one of the most beautiful, economically significant, and ecologically complex regions on the planet. The project is based on the artist’s extensive research, travel within the region, and conversations with scientists, historians, and Great Lakes specialists.

“The Grand Rapids Art Museum is humbled and extremely grateful to receive this significant award from the National Endowment for the Arts” commented GRAM Director and CEO, Dana Friis-Hansen. “The NEA plays an invaluable role in providing art programming and experiences across the country, and we’re energized and thankful for their support of The Great Lakes Cycle.”

The exhibition is anchored by five new mural-sized oil paintings, each accompanied by a key that illustrates and notates the species, artifacts, and historical references within the painting. These panoramas reveal timelines of geology, climate, and human history as they relate to the Great Lakes, beginning with the Pleistocene Era, passing through the centuries to humanity’s present relationship with the Lakes, and looking beyond to a vision of their future.

The exhibition will be accompanied by two publications—a fully-illustrated catalogue with essays by Dana Friis-Hansen, Jeff Alexander, and Thyrza Nichols Goodeve, and a children’s book, Rockman to the Rescue by Mark Newman, author of the Sooper Yooper series.

Competition for NEA grants is significant. In this second funding round for FY 2017, the agency received 2,063 eligible applications. The value of NEA funding is not only its monetary impact but also its reputation. An NEA grant confers a seal of approval, allowing an organization to attract other public and private funds beyond the required 1:1 match. In 2016, the ratio of NEA dollars to matching funds was 1:9 or $500 million.

The Great Lakes Cycle will tour nationally through 2020, with presentations at Chicago Cultural Center; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland; the Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, and additional venues.

About National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. For more information, visit

About the Grand Rapids Art Museum

Connecting people through art, creativity, and design. Established in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, the Art Museum is internationally known for its distinguished design and LEED® Gold certified status. Established in 1910 as the Grand Rapids Art Association, GRAM has grown to include more than 5,000 works of art, including American and European 19th and 20th century painting and sculpture and more than 3,000 works on paper. Embracing the city’s legacy as a leading center of design and manufacturing, GRAM has a growing collection in the area of design and modern craft.