NEH Announces Recent Awards

The National Endowment for the Humanities recently announced the awards for the applications submitted in August 2011 (yes, 2011) for the “America’s Historical and Cultural Organizations” grant program.  Out of the 25 major grants awards (I’m not including the small NEH on the Road grants), about a third are related to historic places including:

El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park Visitor Center Plan

  • Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, Santa Barbara, CA
  • Award: Outright; $40,000
  • Planning for interpretive exhibitions and programs in a newly constructed visitor center about the history of Santa Barbara.

Impressions of a Lost World

  • Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield, MA
  • Award: Outright; $40,000
  • Planning for a website, mobile applications, hand-held digital and print tours, public programs, and educational materials about the early nineteenth-century discovery of dinosaur tracks in the Connecticut River Valley and the impact of this discovery on American thought and culture.

New Bedford: The Commercial and Industrial Evolution of an American Port City

  • New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford, MA
  • Award: Outright; $40,000
  • Planning for a long-term exhibition, public programs, and educational materials on the history of commerce and industry in New Bedford, Massachusetts, following the decline of whaling, the city’s founding industry.

Between the Waters: Hobcaw Barony Website Planning Project

  • ETV Endowment of South Carolina, Spartanburg, SC
  • Award: Outright; $40,000
  • Planning for a website, a virtual tour, and educational materials about the history of Bernard Baruch’s rural estate in coastal South Carolina, its African American residents, and its legacy for regional land conservation.

Souls Seeking Safety: Interpreting the Underground Railroad Experience in Indiana

  • Indiana State Museum Foundation, Inc., Indianapolis, IN
  • Award: Outright; $300,000
  • Implementation of a long-term multimedia exhibition and docent training at an Underground Railroad site covering Quaker abolitionist and Free Labor economic resistance to slavery as well as first-person stories of fugitive African Americans.

Hidden Histories on America’s Front Lawn:

  • George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
  • Award: Outright; $304,565
  • Implementation of a mobile tour and website on the history and culture of the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Moton 2011: The Permanent Exhibition, Phase II, Audio/Visual Components, Galleries II-VI

  • Robert R. Moton Museum Inc., Farmville, VA
  • Award: Outright; $350,000
  • Implementation of multimedia components for a long-term exhibition about one African American high school’s struggle to achieve racial integration, which became part of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case “Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.”

Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America

  • Western New York Public Broadcasting Association, Buffalo, NY
  • Award: Outright; $500,000
  • Production of a 90-minute documentary film and an associated website exploring the life and career of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.

Congratulations to each of these recipients.  Preparing an application is a major accomplishment for any organization, and to actually receive a grant is even better.  I don’t have the statistics for this round, but typically fewer than 15% of applications are funded.  If you applied and didn’t get funded, be sure to get the comments of the review committee and the program officer–they’ll be very helpful for any future applications to the NEH and other funders.   And if you’re thinking about applying, use this list of awards to assess what needs to be part of a successful project (if you see something that’s similar, ask the awardee if they’re willing to share their application narrative–they often don’t like sharing the budget because it can contain salary info).