National Endowment for the Humanities Funds Local Exhibitions on Founder’s Life and Works
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced today 20 community libraries selected to host the traveling exhibition, “Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World.” The exhibit is part of the NEH’s We the People program—a program that aims to inspire the best in citizenship through the reinvigoration of the teaching, study and understanding of American history and culture. To date, over $51 million has been awarded to We the People projects throughout the United States and its territories.
One copy of the 1,000-square-foot traveling exhibit will circulate to 20 public and academic library sites beginning in November 2007. Each site will host the exhibit for a six-week period. Exhibition content is arranged in thematic sections showing Franklin in the Boston of his youth, Franklin’s family and personal life, as well as the years when he built his business as Philadelphia’s premier printer. The exhibit also looks at Franklin’s commitment to public service, his interests in medicine and public health, and his work in science and philosophy. Franklin’s political career in England, France and the United States, and his contributions to the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and other major documents are the subjects of the final two sections of the exhibit.
Based on a major exhibition developed by the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary, a consortium of academic institutions in Philadelphia, the traveling version of the exhibit was developed by the American Library Association, in cooperation with the Tercentenary and with major funding from the NEH. The exhibit allows people around the country to explore the breadth of Franklin’s interests and accomplishments—discovering the complex man behind the myths.
“Benjamin Franklin is one of our nation’s most intriguing founders, and his commitment to liberty and love of innovation help illuminate for us two of our nation’s most fundamental ideals,” said Dr. Bruce Cole, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. “We hope this exhibit will allow Americans to learn not only more about Benjamin Franklin, but also about the ideals that built our nation.”
Through the NEH award, each site will also receive an array of educational and promotional materials supporting the themes of the exhibition as well as training, with presentations by the curator, exhibit designer, and librarians from around the country with experience in public programming. A site support notebook features program ideas, speaker lists, bibliographies, film lists, exhibit set-up instructions, and other aid for the librarians. In addition, a $1,000 grant from the NEH may be used to defray the cost of travel to the training sessions or to defray costs of local programming.
NEH grants are awarded on a competitive basis. Throughout the year, humanities experts outside of the Endowment and members of the National Council on the Humanities consider all applications and advise NEH on the quality and significance of each proposed project.