Art Design Chicago 2024 Exhibitions Grants

Visitors in an art museum gallery.

Visitors exploring “The Time Is Now! Art Worlds of Chicago’s South Side, 1960–1980” on view at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago from September 13–December 30, 2018.

Art Design Chicago is a platform for collaboration and exchange developed with cultural practitioners throughout Chicago. The initiative seeks to catalyze transformative approaches to co-creation and community engagement and stimulate expansive narratives of Chicago art and design, past and present. The Terra Foundation invites proposals for exhibitions to be presented as part of Art Design Chicago. Recognizing current and historical inequities in presentations and understandings of American (and Chicago) art history, the Terra Foundation encourages exhibitions that address these disparities and exclusions.

To be considered, programs should focus on the visual arts and/or design of Chicago, whether historical or contemporary, including Native American arts of the region. Contemporary art projects should offer a reflective and critical engagement with histories, arts, and/or art histories associated with Chicago contexts.

The foundation welcomes exhibitions that examine how the confluence of cultures and ideas has shaped the city’s art worlds—altering creative practices or generating new ones and furthering the development of networks that have contributed to the city’s culture and identity

What We Fund

Grants will offset implementation costs for exhibitions and related programming and publications.

Grant proposals  are reviewed by an external panel made up of curators and arts professionals who reflect a diverse range of backgrounds, perspectives, and approaches. We anticipate that individual grants will range between $25,000 and $125,000.


The foundation supports visual-art projects that question and broaden understandings of American art and transform how stories of American art are told. We encourage exhibitions that:

  • generate knowledge and interpretive frameworks that reflect the range and complexity of American art and its histories through the diversity of artists represented, voices included, and stories told;
  • center artists, scholars, and communities who have been systemically excluded from narratives, practices, and presentations of American (and Chicago) art and design; and
  • commit to inclusive and equitable practices across project development and implementation in order to lead to structural change.

Additionally, we encourage Art Design Chicago exhibition projects that:

  • are accompanied by strong audience- and community-engagement strategies, employing approaches to programming and interpretation that are co-generated and relationally based with audiences and community partners;
  • are conceived to connect with a broad audience representative of Chicago’s diverse population;
  • are documented in a publication or other type of lasting and publicly available resource that will serve future research;*
  • are timed to open between May 2024 and the end of 2024.

*We encourage multilingual written materials when possible and relevant to the project and/or its audiences.


For this program, the Terra Foundation accepts proposals from institutions with United States 501(c)(3) status based in the Chicago metropolitan area. If co-organizing a temporary exhibition with a partner organization, the co-organizers should apply jointly. Grants are not made to individuals.

We do not accept proposals for:

  • acquisitions or capital expenditures;
  • exhibitions of primarily single private or commercial collections, even if on long-term loan to a museum (promised gifts are acceptable as are exhibitions with works primarily borrowed from a living artist);
  • exhibitions that are exclusively online;**
  • exhibitions previously mounted that are touring to new venues;
  • exhibitions previously declined by the Terra Foundation

**If you are seeking support for an online exhibition please see Art Design Chicago Research & Learning Resources Grants.

If you have questions about Art Design Chicago Exhibition Grants, please visit the ADC FAQs page, contact [email protected], or contact Program Director of Chicago Grants & Initiatives Jenny Siegenthaler at [email protected].


The deadlines for this program have passed.

How to Apply

The grant application involves a three-part process:

  1. Before submitting a formal proposal to the Terra Foundation, prospective applicants must complete a letter of inquiry (LOI) using this link: Art Design Chicago Exhibition Program Letter of Inquiry
  2. After reviewing the letter of inquiry, the foundation may invite the submission of a formal online proposal.
  3. Formal grant proposals undergo a review process before final decisions are made by the foundation’s Board of Directors.

Review the FAQ for additional information on the online application process.

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 the letter of inquiry is reviewed. A prospective applicant can expect to hear from the foundation within three weeks of receipt of its letter.

Prospective applicants must complete the Art Design Chicago Exhibition Program Letter of Inquiry.

All letters must be written in English.

Download a sample .pdf of the Art Design Chicago Exhibition Program Letter of Inquiry (for reference only).

Formal Proposal

After a 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 in or translated into English. All attachments should also be written in or translated into English.