The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) will give $35.63m in grants for 258 projects across a variety of disciplines and topics including exhibitions at major museums and initiatives are regional art institutions and non-profits.
The grants, announced on 18 April, are the first the NEH is making since the launch of its “Spotlight on Humanities in Higher Education” programme, which caters to populations at US colleges and universities. The grants range in scope from underwriting a multi-part restoration for the USS Intrepid (the decommissioned aircraft carrier that is now home to Manhattan’s Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum) to facilitating a documentary project on the life and career of WEB Dubois.
The organisation “is proud to support exemplary education, preservation, media, research and infrastructure projects that expand resources for Americans, support humanities programmes and opportunities for underserved students and communities, and deepen our understanding of our history, culture and society”, its chair Shelly C. Lowe, a member of the Navajo nation, said in a statement.
The latest cycle of NEH grants will fund museum exhibitions around the US, including several that involve major scholarly research on topics reaching back to antiquity. Among them are a forthcoming traveling exhibition tracking the global influence of art and culture in Byzantine-era North and East Africa, which is being co-organised by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cleveland Museum of Art. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma) received a grant to support an exhibition exploring the role of colour in Mesoamerican art.
The National Building Museum in Washington, DC, will receive a grant of $400,000 to create a long-term exhibition exploring the built environments in children’s books. The Museum of the City of New York will receive $100,000 from the NEH to create an exhibition examining how New York City has been portrayed in arts and media over the past century. Other grants will support slightly less glamorous but no less essential aspects of museums’ inner workings: the Toledo Museum of Art is receiving an infrastructure grant for plumbing renovations.
Nineteen of the new NEH grants will fund curricular innovation at higher learning institutions, such as supporting the creation of a minor in art conservation at Saint Mary’s College in California. Other grants will focus on broader cultural heritage projects, like an endeavour to create a database of 17th-century court cases related to escape attempts by enslaved people in the Chesapeake Bay region.
Founded in 1965, the NEH supports research in literature, philosophy, history, and other areas of the humanities by funding peer-reviewed, selected proposals from across the United States.