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April 19, 2004

Burke Museum Receives NEH Grant for New Bill Holm Center

Seattle X The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture recently received a $300,000 National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant to help build an endowed research fund for the new Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Coast Art. The Burke was one of only two cultural museums to be so awarded in this round of applications.

With the funds from the NEH grant and other donations, the Burke Museum has established The Bill Holm Center to honor Bill Holm and continue the work he began over 30 years ago in Northwest Native American art history. The concept for the endowed research fund originated with Burke Museum Curator of Native American Art, Robin K. Wright who comments that "she wanted to assure Holm's legacy will continue into the future." The Bill Holm Center is the realization of that dream.

As a result of Bill Holm's work, the Burke Museum has become one of the premier research institutions in Northwest Coast art history in the world. The Burke's collection of Northwest Coast Native art is ranked fifth in importance in the United States. The Museum has been an international leader in the field of Northwest Coast Native art studies since the 1930s.

The Center honors Bill Holm's remarkable career and assures in perpetuity his legacy at the Burke Museum in teaching, research, and public education. The Bill Holm Center will further enhance the Burke Museum’s ability to attract and serve artists, students, scholars, and the public. The Center is based at the Burke Museum.

According to Bruce Cole, NEH Chairman, "The evaluators agreed that the Northwest Coast Art Image Database, Ethnology Digital Imaging Project, and other initiatives in the Bill Holm Center will provide enhanced access to research materials important to the humanities. Recognizing the Burke as a major center for Northwest Coast scholarship and public education, evaluators deemed it critically important to endow the institutional infrastructure to promote scholarly research and to foster understanding of Northwest Coast art."

The NEH grant will match the growing number of gifts and pledges now totaling over $536,000, exceeding the first year's fundraising goal of the Center. "The goal is to raise 1.5 million in funds by 2007 and 100% of those funds go directly into the endowment," says George McDonald, Director of the Burke Museum. He further comments that "the NEH grant is a significant benchmark because it is a vote of confidence from an esteemed institution. Additionally, we are pleased with the 1 to 4 matching grant, because for every four dollars raised, NEH matches it by one additional dollar -- making us that much closer to our overall goal."

As the director of the Center, Robin Wright will work with an advisory board, including Bill Holm and several internationally recognized Northwest Coast artists and scholars, to develop projects. Projects underway include a digital imaging project, a Totem Pole web site, carving projects, research and planning for a Haida house model exhibit.

Bill Holm, Professor Emeritus of Art History and Curator Emeritus of Northwest Coast Indian Art at the Burke Museum, is recognized internationally as the founder of the discipline of Northwest Coast Native art history. He is the author of the foundational book, Northwest Coast Indian Art, An Analysis of Form (1965), now in its 17th printing.

Holm's classes at the University broadened the understanding and appreciation of several generations of students and artists. "Holm brings the insight of an artist to the discipline of art history," comments Wright. "He established the degree program here at the University of Washington School of Art. Before he came to the University, there was no Ph.D. program in Northwest Coast art history."

Holm received an M.F.A. in painting from the University of Washington in 1951, was a high school art teacher in the Seattle Public Schools system from 1953 to 1968, and began a joint appointment as a curator at the Burke Museum and teaching art history at the University of Washington in 1968, until his retirement in 1985.

His eight books have won scholarly acclaim and recognition with four Washington State Governor's Writers Awards, and two special Governor's awards. His achievements as an artist were celebrated in a 2000 book titled, Sun Dogs and Eagle Down, The Indian Paintings of Bill Holm. In 2001, he was honored with a certificate of appreciation from the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people of Southeast Alaska through the Sealaska Heritage Institute. The Native American Art Studies Association recognized him with its Honor Award in 1991. The University of Washington honored him with a Distinguished Achievement Award from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1994, and selected him to give the annual University Faculty Lecture in 2003.

Benefit Art Auction for the Bill Holm Center - Sun. May 23 at the Burke Museum

The general public will have a chance to contribute to the creation of the Bill Holm Center this spring, when the Burke Museum presents a Benefit Art Auction for the Bill Holm Center. Set for Sun., May 23, this is a unique auction of contemporary works donated by more than 50 Northwest artists. Proceeds from the auction will go toward support of the Bill Holm Center's Research Endowment, and will be eligible for the 1:4 NEH matching funds. Among the artists donating contemporary works to the auction are Joe David, Susan Point, Bill Holm, Preston Singletary and Calvin Hunt.

For more information on the Bill Holm Center or the benefit auction, contact The Bill Holm Center at 206-543-5595 or email bholmctr@u.washington.edu. The Bill Holm Center Web Site will be launched in March at URL: www.burkemuseum.org/bhc/.

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The Burke Museum is located at the corner of NE 45th St and 17th Ave NE, on the University of Washington campus. Hours are 10 am to 5pm daily, and until 8 pm Thursday. Admission is $8 general, $6.50 senior, $5 student/youth. Admission is free to children 5 and under, Burke members, UW students, faculty, and staff. Admission is free to the public on the first Thursday of each month. For a complete calendar of events or for more information, call 206-543-5590, or visit www.burkemuseum.org

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