Research News

Discovery Vanderbilt includes arts, sciences, humanities

The humanities, creative expression and artistic inquiry at Vanderbilt are poised to see new engagement, reach and impact spurred by increased investments through Discovery Vanderbilt, a university-wide initiative. Recently announced by Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs C. Cybele Raver, Discovery Vanderbilt represents a landmark university investment in innovation, research and creative discovery.

“Through Discovery Vanderbilt, we are developing exciting new programming that will engage faculty and students in the arts on campus and with our partners in the Nashville community,” said Tracy Sharpley-Whiting, vice provost for arts and libraries. “What we’ve already found is that there is no shortage of faculty and students involved in various arts endeavors.”

The first step was to create a virtual arts hub.

“We decided to create a single, digital place where people engaged in the arts have access to learn about all of Vanderbilt’s arts-related projects,” said Sharpley-Whiting, who also is Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Distinguished Professor of African American and Diaspora Studies and French. “We hope this generates broader involvement in the arts, including interdisciplinary initiatives, and shows the opportunities to join in that are right at their fingertips.”

Incunabula, a digital repository for arts-related activities at Vanderbilt and with community partners, launched in September 2022. Incunabula will be updated every fall and spring semester. The word “incunabula” is Latin for “cradle.” In book history, it is used to refer to all books printed with metal type from 1455 C.E., the beginning of Gutenberg’s movable type printing press, through the end of 1500 C.E.

Discovery Vanderbilt is a university-wide initiative that includes more than $50 million in new investment across the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities and the arts. It aims to catapult forward Vanderbilt’s reputation and impact of pathbreaking research, innovation and creative endeavors carried out by faculty, staff and students.

Building on innovation and recognition in the arts

  • Vanderbilt University Blair School of Music’s
    Musician drumming
    Blair Big Band photos – jazz program.

    Blair Big Band is among 10 outstanding college jazz orchestras from across the nation invited to participate in the third annual Jack Rudin Jazz Championship at Lincoln Center in New York City.

  • The Vanderbilt Blair School of Music secured $5 million in funding for a comprehensive scholarship, the Blair Community Scholars Program, which will recruit highly talented students from underrepresented and vulnerable backgrounds.
  • Developing art walks will highlight the art installations
    This painted steel statue was created by Mark di Suvero in 1987 and installed outside the E. Bronson Ingram Studio Arts Building in 2013.

    scattered across Vanderbilt’s 333-acre campus and share the stories behind each piece.

  • Curb Creatives, a new program at the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy, will help students gain practical information and skills essential to launch careers in creative and arts-based industries.

Joining community partners in the arts

  • Vanderbilt has had an ongoing engagement with the National Museum of African American Music. To deepen this collaborative relationship and to inspire innovative research in the arts, Sharpley-Whiting launched the Arts, Discovery and Innovation Fund in September 2022. The fund allows faculty, staff and students to collaborate with NMAAM on projects covering a wide range of topics, including musicology, theatrical performance, American history and policies related to intellectual property.

    Photo essay on the National Museum of African American Music located in downtown Nashville. Photos include exterior and interior shots that capture the spirit of this new facility. Photos by Joe Howell
  • Other established components of the NMAAM partnership include free student access to the museum and to expanded collections of books, scores, sound recordings and material objects.
  • An expanded partnership between the Vanderbilt University Blair School of Music and the Nashville Symphony creates opportunities for members of the  Vanderbilt Youth Orchestras to work with professional conductors and coaches in settings designed to build their skills, their musicianship and their understanding of orchestral repertoire.
  • Vanderbilt University’s Engine for Art, Democracy
    Art Professor Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons in her studio office and outside Ingram Fine Arts Center. (John Russell/Vanderbilt University)

    and Justice, founded by María Magdalena Campos-Pons, an Afro-Cuban American artist and the Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Art, is a trans-institutional partnership involving Vanderbilt and Fisk universities, the Frist Art Museum and Millions of Conversations.

  • In 2021, the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries at Vanderbilt acquired the Dizzy Gillespie Collection and the papers of Rissi Palmer, an influential singer-songwriter and Apple Music Country show host who is breaking barriers for country music artists of color. These collections will be available for loan, display and study at the museum.

Learn more about Discovery Vanderbilt, and watch for the next story in the Discovery Vanderbilt series.