In theory, art can build empathy. The Minneapolis Institute of Art just nabbed a big grant to explore how and why.

The museum announced Wednesday that it had received a $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to establish a Center for Empathy and the Visual Arts. That center will work with researchers, scholars and artists, among others, to research ways the visual arts can foster empathy and compassion, according to a press release.

"Thanks to the Mellon Foundation, we’re proud to take the lead with partners across the country, in studying how to spark and nurture empathy through the visual arts," said Kaywin Feldman, the museum's director, "so that Mia and all art museums can contribute even more toward building a just and harmonious society.”

The project will span five years, the museum said.

On Wednesday, the Minneapolis Institute of Art also announced another grant -- $520,000 from the Ford Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation for the museum's work around inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility. 

(Photo above: “I Am Somali" at the Minneapolis Institute of Art)

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