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MAG, River Campus Libraries awarded IMLS grant

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The Memorial Art Gallery and River Campus Libraries at the University of Rochester recently received a $121,903 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ Museums for America program in support of the exhibition “Up Against the Wall: Art, Activism and the AIDS Poster,” on view from March 6 through June 19, 2022.

Museums for America supports projects that strengthen a museum’s ability to benefit the public by providing high quality, inclusive learning experiences; serving as community anchors and essential partners in addressing community needs; and by preserving and providing access to the collections entrusted to its care.

“Up Against the Wall” is one of 190 projects selected from 631 applications requesting more than $98 million. It will exhibit approximately 200 examples of AIDS education posters held by the River Campus Libraries’ Department of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation.

The exhibit is curated from a larger collection of over 8,000 posters from 130 countries and in 76 languages, spanning from 1983 to the present. It explores how social, religious, civic, community and public health agencies addressed the HIV/AIDS pandemic within the public realm.

The organizations and creators behind these posters tailored their messages to broad and specific audiences, using humor, scare tactics, sexual imagery and other methods to get their message across. “Up Against the Wall” will explore the ongoing HIV/AIDS crisis through these posters, and examine how different groups, cultures and audiences responded across time and space.

“We are honored to be the home of such an important collection,” said Mary Ann Mavrinac, vice provost and dean of the University of Rochester Libraries. “This exhibition will embody the depth of meaning, historically and currently, that the AIDS Education Poster collection embodies, using art as a vehicle for community engagement, education and — ideally — a reduction in those affected by HIV/AIDS.”

MAG director Jonathan Binstock said, “our museum does its best work when it partners with other UR departments and organizations in Rochester and beyond. We are excited about this collaboration, which brings the extraordinary collections of River Campus Libraries to a broad audience.”