Charles Turzak, Randolph Street, c. 1936, color woodcut on thin off-white Japan paper, 12 1/4 x 9 1/4 in. (31.1 x 23.5 cm), Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1996.45

Art Design Chicago Exhibition Grants

In response to the growing interest in local and regional art histories within in the American art field, the Terra Foundation for American Art has launched Art Design Chicago, a grant initiative focused on the rich history of art and design in Chicago between the Great Fire (1871) and the close of the twentieth century. Through the initiative, the Terra Foundation will offer grant support for freshly conceived exhibitions, academic programs, publications, and public programs designed to deepen and expand understanding of:

  • The visual art and design that emerged from Chicago (1871–2000);
  • Chicago’s distinctive character as an art and design center, and the diverse factors that have shaped Chicago’s artistic culture; and
  • Ways in which Chicago’s artists and designers have engaged with and contributed to culture nationally and internationally.

The Terra Foundation seeks to fund exhibitions with a focused thesis that contribute new insights and scholarly knowledge about the art and design that emerged from Chicago (1871–2000) and the city’s history, character, and influence as a metropolitan art center. Exhibitions funded through this initiative are expected to take place during the second half of 2018 to take full advantage of the foundation’s marketing efforts for Art Design Chicago, which will be most active July through December. The foundation has a special interest in projects that add a national or international dimension to the study and presentation of Chicago art and design.

The foundation encourages projects that:

  • Make use of various archives, oral histories, and other research resources;
  • Generate lasting research resources and records, such as exhibition catalogs;
  • Include related education programs;
  • Are presented at more than one venue, nationally and/or internationally;*
  • Include contributions not only from Chicago-based scholars, but from those based elsewhere in the United States and abroad; and
  • Are scheduled during the second half of 2018 to take full advantage of the foundation’s marketing efforts for the initiative, which will be most active July through December.

*Please note: The foundation prefers to support the full tour of traveling exhibitions and typically accepts only one proposal for such exhibitions from the organizing institution(s). Organizers are eligible for additional grant support intended to offset some of the venue fees charged to participating organizations. Support for venues must be requested by the organizing institution(s) at the time of application.

Exhibition grant proposals will be reviewed by an external panel of scholars and curators who are specialists in American art and/or design.


June 2017 Awards

Letter of Inquiry: May 16, 2016
Proposal: February 17, 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.


Chicago-based organizations and those based elsewhere in the United States or abroad may apply for an Art Design Chicago grant. The Terra Foundation only accepts proposals from institutions with United States 501(c)(3) status or the international equivalent, and does not make grants to individuals. The Terra Foundation does not accept proposals for:

  • Projects that focus exclusively or primarily on the city’s architecture, built environment, or urban plan as they have been relatively well researched—instead, the initiative focuses on aspects of Chicago’s design history that are less well known;
  • Projects that primarily feature a single private or commercial collection; or
  • Acquisitions or capital expenditures.

If you have questions about Art Design Chicago Exhibition Grants, please visit the Art Design Chicago FAQs page or contact Grants Manager Amy Gunderson ([email protected]) or Program Director of Education Grants & Initiatives Jennifer Siegenthaler ([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. Exhibition grant proposals will be reviewed by an external panel of scholars and curators who are specialists in American art and/or design.

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. Prospective applicants can expect to hear from the foundation within three weeks of their letter’s receipt. The letter should be no longer than three pages (including attachments) and include:

  • Brief statement of the organization’s purpose and goals
  • Description of the project, including its relationship to Chicago and the contribution it will make to American art scholarship, its beginning and ending dates, and 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 in English. Art Design Chicago Exhibition Application