The National Endowment for the Humanities Monday announced $40.3 million in CARES Act economic stabilization grants to support essential operations at more than 300 cultural institutions nationwide that have taken a financial hit due to the coronavirus pandemic, including the Autry Museum of the American West and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
The Autry Museum of the American West was awarded $300,000 for a project, titled, “Digital Engagement at the Autry: Responding to COVID-19 and Looking to the Future.” The funds will allow for the retention of 10 staff members and the hiring of a curatorial assistant to install new exhibitions and develop a long-term digital strategy.
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County was awarded $154,048 for the conservation, digitization and development of a virtual tour documenting 350 to 450 of the museum’s collection of Micronesian, Melanesian and Polynesian bark cloths and woven mats. The project will allow the museum to retain four existing positions and create a new assistant collection manager position to last for the duration of the project.
NEH CARES grants were awarded across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede.
“Over the past few months we have witnessed tremendous financial distress at cultural organizations across the country, which have been compelled to furlough staff, cancel programs and reduce operations to make up for revenue shortfalls caused by the pandemic,” Peede said. “NEH is pleased to provide $40 million to preserve thousands of jobs at museums, archives, historic sites and colleges and universities that are vital to our nation’s cultural life and economy.”
More than 2,300 eligible applications were received from cultural organizations requesting more than $370 million in funding for projects between June and December. About 14% of the applicants were funded.
In March, the NEH received $75 million in supplemental grant funding through the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The agency has already distributed $30 million of that funding to 56 state and jurisdictional humanities councils to support local cultural nonprofits and educational programming.
The 317 grants will allow cultural organizations to retain staff to preserve and curate humanities collections, advance humanities research and maintain buildings and core operations, as well as to prepare buildings, exhibitions and programs for reopening.
Several recipients plan to use their grants to shift in-person programs and institutional resources online to reach a wider public during the pandemic, and other grantees will document the pandemic’s impact on American communities.
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