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 2024 Exhibitions Grants

Art Design Chicago is a platform for collaboration that fosters the investigation and elevation of Chicago’s rich visual art and design histories and creative communities. Now in its second iteration, the initiative offers new opportunities to examine and share the multiplicity of stories that contribute to the city’s dynamic artistic identity and cultural history.

Recognizing past and current inequities in the presentations and understandings of American art history, the Terra Foundation encourages exhibitions that address these imbalances and exclusions. To expand histories of American art, we seek projects about Chicago art and design that reflect inclusive and equitable research and curatorial practices; generate new scholarship and interpretive frameworks; employ critical methodologies and innovative models; and engage diverse partners and audiences. Projects should also align with the initiative’s content focus, namely, by examining the confluence of cultures and ideas that have shaped the city’s art worlds and ways in which the city’s culture has been formed by migrations of peoples, ideas, and influences.

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

Grant proposals will be reviewed by an external panel of curators and museum professionals with a diverse range of backgrounds, perspectives, and approaches. We anticipate that individual grants will range between $25,000 and $125,000.

The Terra Foundation encourages proposals from organizations (e.g., museums, art centers, and community-based cultural organizations) of varying sizes and annual budgets located in the Chicago metropolitan area. To document the Terra Foundation’s support as part of Art Design Chicago, grants should be acknowledged in related publications, gallery signage, and marketing materials.

Priorities and Goals

To expand histories of American art, we encourage projects that reflect the initiative’s content focus and the following priorities and goals:

  • share fuller and more widely representative histories of Chicago art and design with the public, whether through the diversity of artists featured, the voices influencing the curatorial vision or approach, and/or the narratives offered;
  • generate new scholarship about Chicago art and design (documented in a publication or other type of lasting and publicly available resource that will serve future research)* and interpretive frameworks that employ critical methodologies and innovative models;
  • reflect a commitment to inclusive and collaborative research, as well as to curatorial practices that engage diverse voices and partners in the reinterpretation of American art;
  • are accompanied by strong audience- and community-engagement strategies and employ approaches to interpretation that are designed to reach a wide audience broadly representative of Chicago’s diverse population; and
  • incorporate audience perspectives and the expertise of education/engagement specialists and interpretation practitioners in the early stages of the exhibition’s conceptualization and development.

We encourage projects timed to open between May 2024 and the end of 2024, that are long running (e.g., lasting three months or more), and will travel to venues beyond Chicago following the local presentation.

*Exhibition catalogues with contributions from more than one scholar are preferred. We also encourage multilingual written materials when this is possible and is 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. 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)
  • Exhibitions that are exclusively online
  • Exhibitions previously mounted that are touring to new venues
  • Exhibitions previously declined by the Terra Foundation

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].


Spring 2023 Awards
Letter of Inquiry: August 3, 2022
Proposal: October 15, 2022

Fall 2023 Awards
Letter of Inquiry: March 10, 2023
Proposal: May 19, 2023

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.

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 ADC 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.