News Release: MassMu’s 2023 NEA Big Read Kicks Off April 1

News Release:  MassMu’s 2023 NEA Big Read Kicks Off April 1

 The Massillon Museum will launch this year’s NEA Big Read on Saturday, April 1, 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, Interior Chinatown, by Charles Yu.

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.
Receptions for two new exhibitions that complement the NEA Big Read will be held during the kickoff. For the Finding Identity: Heritage as Inspiration exhibition, Aimee Lee, Chi Wong, and Jordan Wong, three Asian American artists who live in Ohio, connect their work to Interior Chinatown. It can be seen in the Fred F. Silk Community Room Gallery and Flex Gallery. Accessible Expressions Ohio, presented by Art Possible Ohio in the Aultman Health Foundation Gallery, is a juried exhibition of artwork created by artists with disabilities. NEA Big Read kickoff and exhibition remarks will begin at 2:00 p.m. in Gessner Hall.
Other MassMu exhibitions can also be viewed during the Big Read kickoff: Tigers vs. Bulldogs: Origins of a Historic Rivalry in the Paul Brown Museum, Alison Alsup—Prairies to Peaks: Biking to Colorado’s Tallest Mountain in Studio M, Art Educator of the Year Finalists exhibition in the Lower Level Lobby, the Immel Circus, and Innovators of Massillon, as well as exhibitions in the Massillon History Gallery, Albert E. Hise Fine and Decorative Arts Gallery, Edward and Louise Mahoney Family Gallery, Judith Paquelet American Indian Gallery, Photography Gallery, and Flex Gallery.
MassMu’s NEA Big Read 2023 includes 26 corresponding events and the distribution of 1,300 free copies of Interior Chinatown. Among the events are book discussions, film screenings, art classes, original one-act plays, and the keynote by author Charles Yu via Facebook Live. 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, Washington High School, Kent Downtown Gallery, Women’s Impact, BeYoutiful Weirdo, and Perry Sippo Branch of Stark County District Library.


The Massillon Museum has received its 16th 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.  
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 as well as marketing support from Visit Canton.  Additional funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Massillon Museum executive Director Alexandra Nicholis Coon said: “In partnership with the Massillon Public Library, presenting the Big Read as a hallmark experience for our community builds excitement each year about the book title and corresponding programs. 2023 marks the 16th year the Massillon Museum has been able to leverage the power of literature to explore how book themes connect to everything from fine art and drama to screenwriting and history; 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 Interior Chinatown,” 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.”
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 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. 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 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 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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