NEH Awards $13.2 Million in Grants for Cultural Infrastructure
New grant awards aim to spur investment and growth at the nation’s museums, libraries, and cultural centers.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has announced $13.2 million in awards to 29 U.S. cultural institutions that will leverage federal funds against private investment to help create and sustain the nation’s humanities infrastructure.
These are the first awards made under NEH’s new Infrastructure and Capacity-Building Challenge Grants, a program created in January 2018 to strengthen the institutional base of the humanities in the United States through matching grants to libraries, museums, archives, colleges, universities, historic sites, scholarly associations, and other cultural institutions for efforts that build institutional capacity or infrastructure for long-term sustainability.
“As our nation approaches its 250th anniversary in 2026, we want to ensure that the buildings, objects, and documents associated with our founding are protected for future generations,” said NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede. “It is my pleasure to announce the inaugural round of NEH Infrastructure and Capacity-Building Challenge Grants, which will foster the long-term health and sustainability of America’s cultural institutions.”
These challenge grants, which require a match of nonfederal funds, support construction and renovation projects, purchase of equipment and software, sharing of humanities collections between institutions, documentation of lost or imperiled cultural heritage, maintenance of digital scholarly infrastructure, and the preservation and conservation of humanities collections.
- Juneau Arts and Humanities Council will receive a $750,000 challenge grant to support construction of a new arts and culture hub in downtown Juneau and, through its partners, create access for humanities programs in communities across Alaska.
- HBCU Library Alliance in Atlanta will receive a $365,000 challenge grant to provide collections-care services and training opportunities for members of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Library Alliance in order to strengthen stewardship of special collections documenting the African-American experience at 71 libraries.
- Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation will receive a $176,106 challenge grant for renovations and infrastructure upgrades to Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and studio, Taliesin West, located outside Scottsdale, Arizona. The project will help address the site’s decaying electrical, water, and sewage systems.
- Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, will receive a $100,000 challenge grant to purchase a digital asset management system that will enable public access to educational materials and information about the museum’s permanent collection of 40,000 works of art. The museum holds the largest public collection of paintings by American artist Thomas Hart Benton as well as notable collections of Chinese art and photography.
- Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington will receive a $250,000 challenge grant for the design and construction of a new Jewish museum in Washington, D.C., including the relocation and renovation of a historic 1876 synagogue.
- Philadelphia Museum of Art will receive a $500,000 challenge grant to expand gallery space to display its permanent collections of early American Art, which comprise nearly 12,000 objects dating from the colonial period through the mid-1800s. The collection includes works by early American painter Charles Willson Peale, and masterworks by John Singleton Copley, Benjamin West, and Thomas Sully.
- Pellissippi State Technical Community College Foundation in Knoxville, Tennessee, will receive a $400,000 challenge grant to create a center to house the Appalachian Heritage Project collection—which focuses on regional literature, history, and folklore—and related educational activities and public programming.
- Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, will receive a $420,482 challenge grant to repair the house’s 100-year old signature tile roof to preserve the museum’s collection of fine and decorative art. This premier collection of American art includes works by Thomas Cole, Grant Wood, and Georgia O’Keeffe.
- Northeastern University Library in Boston, Massachusetts, will receive a $500,000 challenge grant to expand the library’s digital scholarship infrastructure to include a new generation of research and digital history projects that emphasize large-scale data analysis and data modeling of historical and cultural sources. The initiative will focus on five pilot projects relating to early Caribbean literature, Jesuit missions in North America, indigenous American Indian languages, population flow and identity in the United States, and Boston-related data and archival materials.
- Cincinnati Art Museum will receive a $500,000 challenge grant to support reinstallation of the museum’s Ancient Near Eastern gallery as well as the cleaning, conservation, and remounting of up to 1,000 pieces of Nabataean sculpture and decorated architecture—the largest collection of material of its kind outside of Jordan.
NEH offered a second grant competition for Infrastructure and Capacity-Building Challenge Grants in 2018. Grant awards for those applications will be announced in April 2019.