Terra Foundation Exhibition Grants for 501(c)(3) Status Organizations - Fall 2018

International | Apply by March 1st, 2018

Exhibition Grants

Recognizing the importance of experiencing original works of art firsthand, the Terra Foundation supports exhibitions that increase the understanding and appreciation of historical American art (circa 1500–1980). The foundation has a particular interest in exhibitions that add an international dimension to the study or presentation of historical American art or take place in Chicago, where we’re headquartered. “International dimensions” vary by project, but may include:

  • A venue outside the United States
  • A focused thesis that makes a significant contribution to scholarship on historical American art in an international context
  • International curatorial involvement
  • Inclusion of international catalogue essayists
  • A presentation that is meaningful to international audiences

Visual arts that are eligible for Terra Foundation Exhibition Grants include painting; sculpture; works on paper (prints, drawings, watercolors, photographs); decorative arts (typically handmade functional objects of high aesthetic quality); design (objects of high aesthetic quality; excludes industrial design); video art; and conceptual art. Excluded are architecture, performance art, and commercial film/animation.

Exhibition Grant proposals will be reviewed by an external panel of scholars and curators who are specialists in historical American art.

Eligibility -

The foundation only accepts proposals from institutions with United States 501(c)(3) status or the international equivalent. Exhibition Grants are not made to individuals.

There are three types of institutions eligible for funding:

American institutions organizing:

1. Exhibitions on any aspect of historical American art that travel internationally.

  • At least one international venue must be secured before a letter of inquiry is submitted.
  • Any grant award would be made to the American organizer, but it must offset costs incurred by both the organizer and any international venue[s]. These do not have to be shared costs, but frequently are.

2. Exhibitions on any aspect of historical American art that are co-organized with an international venue.

  • Co-organizers must apply jointly.

3. Exhibitions that make a significant contribution to scholarship on historical American art in an international context.

  • Organizer/co-organizers must apply together, and funding must be acknowledged for the full exhibition tour (exception: any exhibition with a Chicago venue, see below).

International institutions organizing exhibitions on any aspect of historical American art.

  • The organizing museum(s) must apply for any non-US tour venues (exception: any exhibition with a Chicago venue, see below)
  • If co-organizing with another museum, co-organizers must apply jointly.

Chicago institutions organizing or hosting exhibitions on any aspect of historical American art.

  • If an exhibition travels to Chicago, only the Chicago institution presenting the exhibition may apply for funding (no funding is available to the organizer unless the topic situates American art within an international context; even in that case, however, funding must also be requested to offset costs of the Chicago venue).
  • For details, please contact Program Director of Exhibition & Academic Grants Carrie Haslett (haslett@terraamericanart.org) in advance of submitting a letter of inquiry.

The Terra Foundation requires that exhibitions include the following:

  • New ways of thinking about American art,
  • Scholarly interpretation and a contextualized presentation,
  • Engagement with exceptional art objects,
  • Related scholarly publications, and
  • Related educational programming tailored for the intended audience.

Grant funding is also available for exhibitions that include objects from the Terra Foundation collection (see Terra Collection Initiatives).

The Terra Foundation does not accept proposals for:

  • Acquisitions or capital expenditures;
  • Exhibitions and programs focused primarily on art made after 1980;
  • Exhibitions primarily comprised of single private or commercial collections;
  • Online exhibitions;
  • Permanent collection installations;
  • Exhibitions focused on architecture, conservation, or film; or
  • Exhibitions previously declined by the Terra Foundation.

As the foundation prefers to fund full tours, we will only accept one proposal per exhibition. The proposal must come from the organizing institution(s), unless there is a Chicago venue, in which case see “Chicago” in the eligibility guidelines above.

Please note that the award of a research & development grant does not guarantee eligibility in the exhibition grant program area.

If you have questions about our Exhibition Grants, please visit the Grant FAQs page or contact Grants Manager Amy Gunderson (grants@terraamericanart.org) or Program Director of Exhibition & Academic Grants Carrie Haslett (haslett@terraamericanart.org).

Deadlines -

Fall 2018 Awards*

Letter of Inquiry: March 1, 2018
Proposal: May 15, 2018

*Please note that Fall 2018 will be the last time awards will be made for exhibitions without at least one venue in either Chicago or outside the US.

If the foundation responds to a letter of inquiry by requesting a proposal, the organization applying for a grant will be expected to complete an application. Visit the Terra Foundation Site for instructions on how to apply.

To document the Terra Foundation’s support, we ask that grants be acknowledged in exhibition publications. Applications should therefore be submitted in time to allow for such acknowledgement to be included (typically, this means submitting a formal letter of inquiry one year to 18 months before the opening of an exhibition’s first venue).

Apply online


Arts Council Napa Valley 501(c)3 is funded in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

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