Public humanities projects enable millions of Americans to explore significant humanities works, ideas, and events. They offer new insights into familiar subjects and invite reflection upon important questions about human life. The division supports a wide range of public humanities programming that reaches large and diverse public audiences and make use of a variety of formats—interpretation at historic sites, television and radio productions, museum exhibitions, podcasts, short videos, digital games, websites, mobile apps, and other digital media. Examples of funded projects include Ken Burns’s Civil War documentary, which increased public understanding of a pivotal point in American history; the Walters Art Museum exhibition The Book of Kings: Art, War, and the Morgan Library’s Medieval Picture Bible, which gave visitors insights into the role of religion in the Middle Ages; and the reinterpretation of Historic Hudson Valley’s Phillipsburg Manor, an eighteenth-century New York mill site, through which visitors learn about the contributions of enslaved African Americans in the North, and Walden, a game, a free-to-educators digital game that allows players to spend a year at Walden Pond as Henry David Thoreau.
Program officers are prepared to answer a wide variety of questions from prospective applicants. They can provide information about the division’s application guidelines and the eligibility or competitiveness of potential project ideas, and provide tips about common proposal-writing mistakes to avoid. They will supply samples of successful application narratives in each grant category and even provide feedback for a preliminary draft of a proposal if it is submitted well before the deadline. All potential applicants are encouraged to contact a program officer early in their project conceptualization process.