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Exhibition Grant

Grants to USA, Canada, and International Nonprofits to Exhibit Historical
American Art that is Chicago-Based or has an International Focus

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Terra Foundation

LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

05/15/18 Postmarked for mailed material


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Grants to USA, Canada, and International nonprofit organizations for arts exhibitions that increase the understanding and appreciation of historical American art (circa 1500–1980). Letters of inquiry are due March 1, 2018. The funding source has a particular interest in supporting exhibitions that add an international dimension to the study or presentation of historical American art, or that take place in Chicago, where the Foundation is headquartered. Eligible works should be made by artists from what is now the geographic United States.

“International dimensions” vary by project, but 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, and/or
- An international curatorial team.

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.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 170093


Additional Eligibility Criteria:

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:

1. American institutions organizing:

- 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.
- Exhibitions on any aspect of historical American art that are co-organized with an international venue. Co-organizers must apply jointly.
- 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).

2. 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.

3. 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).

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, they 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.

Pre-Application Information:

For exhibition grants, applications should be submitted in time for the grant to be acknowledged in the exhibition catalogue, which typically this means submitting a formal “Letter of Inquiry” at least one year (or longer) before the opening of an exhibition’s first venue.


Spring 2018 Awards
Letter of Inquiry: August 1, 2017
Proposal: October 16, 2017

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

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.

The grant application process is three-part:

1. Before submitting a formal proposal to the Terra Foundation, prospective applicants must write a letter of inquiry (LOI).
2. After reviewing the letter of inquiry, the foundation may invite the submission of a formal proposal.
3. Formal grant proposals undergo a review process before final decisions are made by the foundation’s Board of Directors.

Letter of Inquiry (LOI):

A letter of inquiry must precede any formal grant proposal to the Terra Foundation; formal proposals are accepted only by invitation of the foundation after review of the letter of inquiry. A prospective applicant can expect to hear from the foundation within three weeks of receipt of its letter. All letters should be written in English, addressed to the grants manager, and sent by email.

Formal Proposal:

After a letter of inquiry is reviewed, prospective applicants may be invited to submit a formal proposal. Please note that an invitation for a formal proposal does not guarantee funding at any level. Formal proposals must be written or translated in English and should not be stapled or bound. All attachments should also be written or translated into English.

Click on the link in the Supporting Documents section below to access the application.


Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

All letters should be sent by email to

Additional printed copies of the letters may be sent to:

Terra Foundation for American Art
120 East Erie Street
Chicago, Illinois 60611
United States

If you have questions about our Exhibition Grants, please contact Grants Manager, Amy Gunderson, at, or Program Director of Exhibition and Academic Grants, Carrie Haslett, at

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)   Guam (USA)   Puerto Rico (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)   Northern Mariana Islands (USA)

USA Compact Free Associations: The Federated States of Micronesia (USA)   Marshall Islands (USA)   Republic of Palau (USA)

Canada: Alberta   British Columbia   Manitoba   New Brunswick   Newfoundland and Labrador   Northwest Territories   Nova Scotia   Nunavut   Ontario   Prince Edward Island   Quebec   Saskatchewan   Yukon


International country outside of the USA, Israel and Canada.