News Release: MassMu’s 2022 NEA Big Read Kicks Off April 2

The Massillon Museum will launch this year’s NEA Big Read on Saturday, April 2, 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, An American Sunrise, by Muscogee author Joy Harjo, US Poet Laureate.

The Massillon Public Library, MassMu’s leading partner in the Big Read since its inception in Western Stark County, will park its Bookmobile at the kickoff.

Guests can explore two new exhibitions that complement the NEA Big Read. Un-settling: A Story of Land Removal and Resistance can be seen in the Aultman Health Foundation Gallery.  Co-curated by Dr. Shana Klein and Marissa Tiroly, the exhibition features artwork by contemporary Native American artists, Norman Akers, Jesse Cooday, Gregg Deal, Dakota Mace, Natani Notah, Hulleah J. Tsinhnahjinnie, Will Wilson, and Melanie Yazzie.

Threads Moving Backward and Forward: Contemporary Textile Artworks from Ohio, curated by Stephen Tornero, will open in the Fred F. Silk Community Room Gallery on April 2. It features artists Jo Westfall, Benedict Scheuer, Malcolm Dakar!, and Katie Mongoven.

Other MassMu exhibitions will also be open during the Big Read kickoff: Tiger Legacy: The Story Continues in the Paul Brown Museum as well as exhibitions in the Massillon History Gallery, Albert E. Hise Fine and Decorative Arts Gallery, Photography Gallery, and Flex Space Gallery.

MassMu’s NEA Big Read 2022 includes 30 corresponding events and the distribution of 1,200 free copies of An American Sunrise. Among the events are book discussions, film screenings, art classes, original one-act plays, and the keynote by author Joy Harjo. 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 and exhibitions this year include Massillon Public Library, Kent State University Downtown Gallery, Stark Parks, Washington High School, Women’s Impact, BeYoutiful Weirdo, John Strauss Furniture, and Soroptimist International of Canton/Stark County.
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 National Endowment for the Arts particularly welcomes books that support the Endowment’s effort to reach individuals whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. You can suggest a new NEA Big Read title at

The Massillon Museum has received a 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 61 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.

In addition to the NEA grant, funding is provided by One Tiger, and Rotary Club of Massillon. The Massillon Museum receives operating support from the Ohio Arts Council and ArtsinStark to augment its primary local funding and marketing support from Visit Canton.  Additional funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Massillon Museum executive Director Alexandra Nicholis Coon said: “The relationships Big Read programs have facilitated with members of our community are deep-rooted; 2022 marks the 15th year the 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 trivia and astronomy; our multidisciplinary approach to programming the Big Read makes the book selection approachable to all ages and interests. We are honored to have been awarded this opportunity by NEA and Arts Midwest.”

“We look forward to engaging our diverse community with programming connected to the themes in An American Sunrise,” said MassMu Education and Outreach Manager Stephanie Toole. “Big Read programs and events will bring community partners and the public together to examine shared human experiences.”

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.

Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the Arts Endowment supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit to learn more.


Arts Midwest promotes creativity, nurtures cultural leadership, and engages people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people’s lives. Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six non-profit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 35 years. For more information, visit

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 about 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 visit


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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