The Terra Foundation for American Art actively supports projects that encourage scholarship on American art topics. 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, with at least one third of the participants coming from outside the United States.
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.
Visual arts that are eligible for Terra Foundation Academic Workshop and Symposium Grants include all visual art categories except architecture and commercial film/animation. We favor programs that place objects and practices in an art historical perspective.
NOTE: The foundation funds museum-organized educational programs related to exhibitions through its Exhibition Grants; 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. Academic Program grants for conferences, symposia, and workshops do not exceed $25,000 unless there are unusual circumstances. For Terra consideration, at least one-third of the program must focus on pre-1980 art of the United States, and award level may be commensurate with the degree of focus. The Terra Foundation prefers not to be the sole contributor to an event. No more than 15% of a Terra Foundation grant may be applied to indirect costs.
While the Terra Foundation for American Art welcomes recurring requests, organizations that have submitted multiple applications should note that the foundation also attempts to fund programs at a variety of organizations. Due to the competitive nature of this program area, not every request can be funded, regardless of prior support.
Summer 2020 Awards
For programs taking place after September 1, 2020:
Letter of Inquiry: December 6, 2019
Proposal: March 6, 2020
Fall 2020 Awards
For programs taking place after January 1, 2021:
Letter of Inquiry: March 16, 2020
Proposal: June 15, 2020
Summer 2021 Awards
For programs taking place after September 1, 2021:
Letter of Inquiry: December 4, 2020
Proposal: March 5, 2021
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 and Research Travel Grants for US-based Scholars pages.
If you have questions about our Academic Program Grants, please visit the Grant FAQs page or contact [email protected] or Program Director of Exhibition & Academic Grants Carrie Haslett ([email protected]).
How to Apply
The Terra Foundation for American Art has moved its grant making to an online system. With the new system, grant seekers will benefit from a streamlined application process. Review the FAQ for additional information on the online application process.
The grant application process is three-part:
- Before submitting a formal proposal to the Terra Foundation, prospective applicants must complete a letter of inquiry (LOI) using this link: Academic Program Letter of Inquiry
- After reviewing the letter of inquiry, the foundation may invite the submission of a formal online proposal.
- 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 online letter of inquiry. A prospective applicant can expect to hear from the foundation within three weeks of receipt of its letter. The online letter of inquiry will require the following information:
- 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 must be written in English.
After the letter of inquiry is reviewed, prospective applicants may be invited to submit a formal proposal through the online system. 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. All attachments should also be written or translated into English.