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State Department Funds World Museum Exhibits

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

And we have more this morning from NPR's Elizabeth Blair.

ELIZABETH BLAIR: Under the program, American and non-U.S. museums can apply for grants for exhibitions that would strengthen international connections. Museums and community collaborations abroad is being managed by the American Association of Museums, where Eric Ledbetter is director of International Programs. He says it's just one example of cultural diplomacy funded by the State Department.

ERIC LEDBETTER: This is really building on an idea that goes all the way back to the Marshal Plan and the Fulbright scholars and this bloom of connections among peoples that came out of the wreckage of World War II.

BLAIR: Lee Rosenbaum writes for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. On her blog for artsjournal.com, she claims the program co-ops museums as agents of foreign policy.

LEE ROSENBAUM: Certainly, there has been a history of government support for exhibitions going abroad. But the proposals generally and the planning and the concepts behind the exhibition should come from the museums and not be dictated by the federal government.

BLAIR: But Eric Ledbetter says the program has nothing to do with promoting an American political agenda, and that museums are in the driver's seat.

LEDBETTER: It's their colleagues, U.S. scholars, not administration officials who will make the final awards.

BLAIR: Elizabeth Blair, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Elizabeth Blair is a Peabody Award-winning senior producer/reporter on the Arts Desk of NPR News.

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