The Art Institute of Chicago has received a grant of $500,000 from the Government of India as part of a new professional exchange program between the museum and the country.

The Ministry of Finance in India announced the establishment of the Vivekananda Memorial Program for Museum Excellence, in honor of Swami Vivekananda - an Indian poet, musician, playwright and philosopher. The program also has particular meaning because on Sept. 11, 1893, Swami Vivekananda gave a landmark lecture on religious freedom, at the first World's Parliament on Religion, at a building which is now the Art Institute.

It is a supreme honor to be recognized by the Government of India as a partner in the preservation, exhibition, and promotion of India's cultural heritage, said Douglas Druick, President and Eloise W. Martin Director of the Art Institute.

This rededication of the site of Swami Vivekananda's speech and the Vivekananda Memorial Program for Museum Excellence is both living testaments to the long relationship between the Art Institute and India, going back to the earliest days of the museum's history. Over the years our partnership has flourished, and we are gratified by and excited for what will be a milestone in our collaboration, he further added.

The memorial program is aimed at promoting professional exchanges between the Art Institute and various museums in India.

According to ArtDaily, under this four-year program, the Art Institute will serve as a standard and resource centre for museum professionals in India. In addition, groups of Art Institute staff members will visit India on a regular basis, to conduct workshops and seminars, deliver lectures and take courses.

This is the first time a U.S. museum has received a grant from the Indian government.