MassMu’s 2024 NEA Big Read Launches April 6

MassMu’s 2024 NEA Big Read Launches April 6
The Massillon Museum will launch this year’s NEA Big Read on Saturday, April 6, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., with a free event. The public is invited to visit the Museum to pick up a free copy of this year’s book selection, Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi.
The Massillon Public Library, MassMu’s leading partner in the Big Read since its inception in Western Stark County, will park its Bookmobile outside the Museum so guests can visit it during the kickoff.
New exhibitions that complement the NEA Big Read will be on view during the kickoff: Home Again: The Embodiment of Africa through Art and Fabric in the main gallery; Monica Jane Frisell and Adam Scher: Portrait of US in Studio M; and Family Means to Me in the Fred F. Silk Community Room Gallery.
Other MassMu exhibitions can also be viewed during the Big Read kickoff: Jerry Kalback, Deadball Era Series: An Illustrator’s Process and Massillon’s Baseball Pros: An Inning in History in the Paul Brown Museum; Precarious Legacies: Exposures of a Fleeting LandscapeEthiopian Expedition of 1903; and Innovators of Massillon. The Massillon History Gallery and the Albert E. Hise Fine and Decorative Arts Gallery will be open.
MassMu’s NEA Big Read 2024 includes more than two dozen corresponding events and the distribution of 1,100 free copies of Homegoing. Among the events are book discussions, film screenings, art classes, original one-act plays, and the live keynote by author Yaa Gyasi via Facebook. A bookmark listing dates and details is included in each copy of the book. Additional information can be found at
Community partners that will host events this year include Massillon Public Library, Soroptimist International of Canton/Stark County, Strauss Studios, Lions Lincoln Theatre, Women’s Impact, BeYoutiful Weirdo, and Perry Sippo Branch of Stark County District Library.
The Massillon Museum has received its 17th grant to host the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read in Western Stark County. An initiative in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. MassMu is one of 62 nonprofit organizations across the nation to be selected to receive a prestigious NEA Big Read grant to support a community reading program during this grant cycle.
Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,800 NEA Big Read programs, providing more than $25 million to organizations nationwide. In addition, NEA Big Read activities have reached every Congressional district in the country. Over the past 15+ years, grantees have leveraged more than $57 million in local funding to support their NEA Big Read programs. More than 6 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, over 100,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and over 40,000 community organizations have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible. For more information about the NEA Big Read, including book and author information, podcasts, and videos, visit
In addition to the NEA grant, funding is provided by One Tiger and Massillon Rotary Club Foundation. The Massillon Museum receives operating support from the Ohio Arts Council and ArtsinStark to augment its local funding by the citizens of Massillon, as well as marketing support from Visit Canton.
Massillon Museum Executive Director Alexandra Nicholis Coon said: “The relationships Big Read programs have facilitated with members of our community are deep-rooted; 2024 marks the 17th year Massillon Museum has been able to leverage the power of literature—alongside our key partner, Massillon Public Library—to explore how book themes connect to everything from fine art and drama to universal themes like family and tradition; our multidisciplinary approach to programming the Big Read makes the book selection approachable to all ages and interests in ways that are accessible and impactful. We are honored to have been awarded this opportunity by NEA and Arts Midwest.”
”We look forward to celebrating Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi through a variety of programs, events, and exhibitions presented by Massillon Museum, Massillon Public Library, and our partners throughout Stark County and beyond,” said MassMu Education and Outreach Manager Stephanie Toole. “The 2024 NEA Big Read will bring community members of all ages and backgrounds together for an exciting month of programming.”
For the NEA Big Read, the National Endowment for the Arts looks for: books that can unite communities through lively and deep discussions and innovative programming; stories that provide glimpses into personal lives, told through the lens of universal themes; writing that sings on the page, with the potential to entice reluctant, lapsed, and avid readers alike; authors who speak to the issues of our times and the country we live in; and choices that offer a range of voices, genres, settings, perspectives, and experiences. The NEA particularly welcomes books that support its effort to reach individuals whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability.
The NEA Big Read, the largest federal literature program since the WPA, is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. It presents The NEA Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the program is managed by Arts Midwest. The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment. Individual communities choose from among two dozen book selections from American and world literature.
Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is an independent federal agency that is the largest funder of the arts and arts education in communities nationwide and a catalyst of public and private support for the arts. By advancing equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, the NEA fosters and sustains an environment in which the arts benefit everyone in the United States. Visit to learn more.
Arts Midwest supports, informs, and celebrates Midwestern creativity. We build community and opportunity across Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, the Native Nations that share this geography, and beyond. As one of six nonprofit United States Regional Arts Organizations, Arts Midwest works to strengthen local arts and culture efforts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, state agencies, private funders, and many others. Learn more at
The Massillon Museum collects, preserves, and exhibits art and artifacts to enrich its community through education and experience. Annually, MassMu’s NEA Big Read encompasses nearly 30 free public events related to the book selection. Dozens of additional events, exhibitions, and classes draw guests to the Museum throughout the year. A visit is always free. MassMu is located at 121 Lincoln Way East in downtown Massillon. For more information, call 330-833-4061 or
Media Contacts:
Alexandra Nicholis Coon –  Massillon Museum Executive Director  –  330-833-4061 x111
Stephanie Toole –  Massillon Museum Education and Outreach Manager / NEA Big Read Coordinator  –  330-833-4061 x104
Margy Vogt  –  Massillon Museum PR Coordinator  –  330-844-1525

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