In 2000, many colleges and universities began to digitize the slide libraries each had built for teaching art history. At the time, I was the financial and administrative officer at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Knowing of the Mellon Foundation’s long-standing interest in the arts and education, these academic institutions flooded us with funding requests. The foundation was interested in helping, but it faced the prospect of writing separate and significant checks to hundreds of instit…

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