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Responsive Grants in American Art

Through its Responsive Grants, the American Art Program seeks to support a wide range of collection-based projects that advance the understanding and presentation of art of the United States. Eligible collection areas include paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, photographs, decorative arts, naïve and outsider art, traditional and studio crafts, architecture, design, and all aspects of Native American arts.

Prospective grantees are encouraged to consider the reinvigoration of collections, for new and established audiences, as a primary goal. Successful applicants will initiate or apply new research and/or fresh approaches to collection-focused documentation, publications, reinterpretation, reinstallations, and in-house or touring exhibitions. They are encouraged to consider digitization projects in tandem with efforts to place works of art on view.

Each year the Foundation will support a small number of substantial, carefully crafted projects that propose in-depth and multi-layered approaches to the study and exhibition of discrete areas of permanent collections. Applicants are encouraged to consider working with exceptional or challenging collection areas that have been under-utilized. One recent example was a three-year grant to the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, for a Whistler Watercolor Initiative that includes a collection-based exhibition, distinct print and on-line catalogues, a post-doctoral curatorial position, an object study workshop for emerging experts in the field, and summer internships for museum diversity.

The American Art Program seeks to support curatorial training and opportunities in the form of term positions linked to Responsive grant projects. Apprentice-level positions should involve continuous mentorship by more senior curators associated with the proposed work.

Each year the Program will also fund several projects located entirely in museum or collection archives.

Although independent conservation projects are funded only rarely, conservation components can be included in proposals for collections-based projects.


Projects ineligible for funding by the American Art Program include those that deal exclusively with film, performance art, or the work of emerging artists. The Program does not fund the creation of works of art, the purchase of works of art, the production of documentary films about American art, or projects in the performing arts.

Letters of inquiry can be submitted at any time through our online portal. Should you have questions in advance of completing the Letter of Inquiry, you may e-mail them to Dr. Teresa A. Carbone, Program Director for American Art at

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