In the Loop
Alumni News : Jan 12, 2017

Museum Studies alumnus Austin Bell awarded prestigious NEH Grant

By Katherine Loughrey

Austin Bell graduated from the Museum Studies program in 2012 and quickly began working with the Marco Island Historical Society as the Curator of Collections for the Marco Island Historical Museum. The museum, with a staff of two, located on Marco Island off Florida’s Gulf Coast, collects and interprets the archeological history of the island. The museum specifically focuses on telling the story of Southwest Florida’s Calusa Indians, a Pre-Columbian society. The museum was founded in 2010 through a local partnership with the Marco Island Historical Society and Collier County Museums.

“It is a tremendous honor to receive a Preservation Assistance Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities,” Bell said. “For the small staff at the Marco Island Historical Museum, which opened in 2011, it is an affirmation that the museum is growing and professionalizing in accordance with accepted standards and best practices. We are ecstatic that this important collection of archeological materials will be properly preserved for generations to come.”

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Preservation Assistance Grant awarded to the Marco Island Historical Society and managed by Bell will be used to rehabilitate the important and growing collections of the museum. The Preservation Assistance Grants program is funded by the NEH to promote safe and secure preservation and storage facilities for collections around the country. This project will ensure the collection is safely rehoused using archival materials, and will provide support for future curation of the objects to increase access and scholarship within Marco Island. With proper preservation, storage, and increased interpretation these objects, some of which date from around 4000 B.C., will empower the museum to continue telling the more than 6000-year story of Marco Island.

This is the first federal grant awarded to the Marco Island Historical Museum. More on the Marco Island Historical Museum, including exhibitions, events and collections can be found on their website.