Photo of Sharon Corwin, Terra Foundation President and CEO. She is seated on a window sill with her legs crossed. She has short brown hair, is wearing glasses, and has a subtle smile.
Sharon Corwin, President and CEO of the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Guidance for Our Partners and Grantees

Dear Friends,

I arrived at the Terra Foundation for American Art on September 1, deeply inspired by the foundation’s past accomplishments and ready to delve into the important work ahead of us. I look forward to sharing more about our future directions in the coming months as I speak with and learn from our partners and communities here in Chicago, nationally, and internationally. With the urgent and necessary calls for change within our arts and cultural institutions, I am committed to prioritizing equity and inclusion within the foundation’s work and to our role in evolving the field of American art at large.

As part of our ongoing response to the myriad challenges of the present moment, I am pleased to announce the second phase of relief funding for US museums, bringing the foundation’s total commitment to $8.5 million over the next two years. This initiative, Re-envisioning Permanent Collections, continues to assist with the financial challenges art institutions are facing while also recognizes the urgency of addressing inequities in the presentation and discussion of American art. It actively and intentionally funds projects that focus on currently underrepresented and undervalued artists, scholars, and communities.

The initiative supports more expansive conceptions of American art that reflect richer and more diverse histories through new engagements with museums’ permanent collections in order to reveal the full multiplicity of artworks and voices that shape the artistic and cultural heritage of the United States. Importantly, our commitment to addressing racial, ethnic, and gender inequities in American art extends beyond artistic content and encompasses the support of opportunities for new, more inclusive models of research, interpretation, and collaborative engagement.

Guidelines for relief funding are available online. We encourage letters of inquiry by November 2.


Sharon Corwin
President & CEO


FAQ For Our Grantees

Is the Terra Foundation for American Art open?
Yes, the Terra Foundation is open; however, health and safety of our staff and community is our top priority. Our staff at both our locations in Chicago and Paris are working remotely. The Paris Center Library is currently open by appointment only (please contact [email protected]).

How can I reach the Terra Foundation?
The easiest way to reach the Foundation staff is by email. Contact information may be found on our staff directory page. If you have a grant related inquiry and do not know who to contact, please email [email protected]. You may also call our main number (+1 312 664 3939) and leave a message for a staff member.

Are grant payments still being processed?
Yes, the foundation will make all grant payments according to the schedule originally outlined in the grant agreement. If you require future payments sooner than originally scheduled, please reach out to your Terra Foundation program director. We may not be able to accommodate all requests for early payment but will do so if we can.

Have grant application or reporting deadlines changed?
For now, grant deadlines remain the same. However, if you require an extension on your letter of inquiry, grant proposal, or grant report, please reach out to your Terra Foundation program director. We will do our best to accommodate such requests.

Any future application deadline changes will be announced on our website or via our e-news. Sign up for our e-news.

If a scheduled payment is dependent on a report and you are unable to complete the report on time, please contact your Program Director to discuss an alternative schedule.

What should I do if the schedule, budget, or plans for my funded project have changed as a result of COVID-19?
We have heard from many of you with active grants for projects taking place over the next few months. It is your decision whether to postpone, reimagine, or cancel your projects, and the Terra Foundation is committed to being as flexible as possible regarding grant implications. The foundation will accommodate reasonable schedule changes (including no-cost extensions) and budget reallocations.

Please reach out to your Terra Foundation program director or to [email protected] so that we may work with you to determine how to adjust the grant to accommodate new schedules and budgets. It is important that changes be discussed with program staff and documented via emails or online requirement forms so that you and the foundation both have a record of the changes.

My funded project involves travel. What should I do?
The Terra Foundation will accommodate reasonable requests for schedule changes. When you are ready to reschedule, please keep the following in mind:

  • Book fully refundable lodging ONLY. This likely means that travelers will need to stay in hotels rather than apartment-sharing services like Airbnb or VRBO.
  • Book flights whenever it makes sense to do so. However, if you need to reschedule, the foundation will ask for a schedule change and a budget revision before you rebook.

What if I need to cancel my funded project?
It is important for a representative from your organization to speak by phone with the Terra Foundation program director associated with your grant to discuss options, as there may be other ways the funds could be used to achieve goals related to the funded project.

What should I do if I’ve canceled or postponed my funded project and I’ve incurred cost that cannot be refunded?
We understand that it may be impossible to recover all grant funds associated with projects that were postponed or cancelled. If grant funds have been expended and cannot be refunded, please contact your Terra Foundation program director. The foundation may request an expenditure report for the project, as well as a revised budget if there are plans to reschedule at a later date.

The COVID-19 crisis has strained my organization. Can the Terra Foundation help?
We understand that organizations will be dealing with the short- and long-term effects of this global pandemic for the foreseeable future. As such, the Terra Foundation has created an emergency relief fund for partner organizations and an ongoing relief effort in the form of a new two-year grant program for the purpose of funding museums’ collection projects. Application details will be announced in summer 2020. 

Please visit Arts for Illinois for more information about a relief fund for artists and arts organizations in Illinois.

Is my organization eligible to apply for emergency support from the Terra Foundation?
The first round of emergency relief funding is for pre-selected partner museums and arts organizations. The foundation will let Chicago, US, and international emergency relief grant recipients know in May 2020 that they can expect a relief grant.

The second round of relief funding for US visual arts organizations is through our grant program Re-envisioning Permanent Collections. Sign up for our e-news.

If you have questions, contact your Terra Foundation program director or [email protected].

Re-envisioning Permanent Collections: A Special Initiative for US Museums

The Terra Foundation is pleased to launch a new two-year initiative—Re-envisioning Permanent Collections—as Phase Two of its recovery grant program for museums in the United States, including those in metropolitan Chicago. Phase One of the recovery program began as a means of offering immediate financial assistance in response to COVID-19 and the effects of shutdowns and other measures necessitated by the pandemic. Through this second phase, we continue to assist with the financial challenges faced by art institutions. Recognizing the urgency of addressing inequities in the presentation and discussion of American art, we are especially interested in projects that can help organizations meaningfully advance their work to become more diverse, equitable, accessible, and inclusive.

In support of these goals, the Terra Foundation reached out to organizations across the United States and in Chicago to assess future directions and financial needs, which revealed a pervasive interest in mining permanent collections to tell stories that convey more expansive views of American art. Grant proposals will be reviewed by an external panel comprising curators who are specialists in American art and who reflect a diverse range of backgrounds, perspectives, and approaches.

The Terra Foundation will support projects that engage permanent collections in order to offer more diverse, equitable, accessible, and inclusive histories of American art and visitor experiences. Grants will offset planning and/or implementation costs for:

  • permanent collection reinstallations
  • temporary exhibitions drawn primarily from a museum’s permanent collection or that join other collections’ holdings

We anticipate that individual grants will range between $25,000 and $75,000. The Terra Foundation encourages proposals from museums of varying sizes, annual budgets, and geographic regions.

Grant guidelines are available online.

For more information, please contact [email protected].