Scholars Christopher Decker (left) and Jennifer Greenhill participate in the 2014 roundtable discussion "The United States Seen by Europe: Writing on American Visual Culture" at the Terra Foundation Paris Center & Library.
Scholars Christopher Decker (left) and Jennifer Greenhill participate in the 2014 roundtable discussion "The United States Seen by Europe: Writing on American Visual Culture" at the Terra Foundation Paris Center & Library.

Academic Workshop and Symposium Grants

The Terra Foundation for American Art actively supports projects that encourage international scholarship on American art topics, as well as scholarly projects with focused theses that further research of American art in an international context. Academic program funding is available for in-person exchanges such as workshops, symposia, and colloquia that advance scholarship in the field of American art (circa 1500–1980) that take place:

  • In Chicago or outside the United States, or
  • In the United States and examine American art within an international context and include a significant number of international participants

Additionally, the foundation welcomes applications for international research groups. Such groups should involve 2 to 4 faculty members from two or more academic institutions, at least one of which must be located outside the United States. Groups should pursue specific research questions that will advance scholarship and meet in person two or more times.

Note: The foundation funds museum-organized educational programs related to exhibitions through its Exhibition Program area; therefore only organizers from universities and research institutes may apply for exhibition-related programs through the Academic Program area.

Within a given year, the foundation seeks to support a range of topics. Please note that grants in this area are typically capped at $25,000 with exceptions only made for unusual circumstances.


Summer 2016 Awards

Letter of Inquiry: December 10, 2015
Proposal: March 1, 2016

Fall 2016 Awards

Letter of Inquiry: March 15, 2016
Proposal: June 15, 2016

Summer 2017 Awards

Letter of Inquiry: December 9, 2016
Proposal: March 1, 2017

Fall 2017 Awards

Letter of Inquiry: March 15, 2017
Proposal: June 15, 2017

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. See “How to Apply” below.


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

These programs are intended for scholarly audiences. Public programs, travel grants, fellowship programs, research databases, programs designed for non-academic audiences, capital expenditures, and programs focused on architecture, conservation, or film are not eligible for funding through this category. For research travel grants to individuals, please visit our Research Travel Grants to the United States page.

If you have questions about our Academic Program Grants, please visit the Grant FAQs page or contact Grants Manager Amy Gunderson ([email protected]) or Program Director of Exhibition & Academic Grants Carrie Haslett ([email protected]).

How to Apply

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. The letter should be no longer than three pages (including any attachments) and include:

  • Brief statement of the organization’s purpose and goals
  • Description of the project, including its beginning and ending dates as well as the need and audience it addresses
  • Objectives of the project
  • Other organizing partners and funding sources and amounts for the project, if relevant
  • Total cost of project and the grant amount requested

All letters should be written in English, addressed to the grants manager, and sent by email to [email protected] Additional printed copies of the letters may be sent to:

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

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.

Download the Academic Program Grants application.