George Bellows, The Palisades, 1909. Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1999.10

Grant & Fellowship FAQs

What types of grants are available?

The Terra Foundation is dedicated to the study and celebration of historic American art. As such, it provides a wide range of grant and fellowship opportunities to further this goal, including funding for exhibitionsacademic programsfellowshipspublications, and support for K–12 education and public programs in Chicago, among others. Please refer to the Grant Opportunities for Institutions and Grants & Fellowship Opportunities for Individuals sections of this website for more information about our program areas.

What constitutes an American art project?

The Terra Foundation supports projects focusing on American (of what is now the United States and its territories) and Native American visual art. Contemporary art may be included, but the project should focus primarily on visual art made before 1980 (see individual grant program guidelines for additional information).

What does the Terra Foundation mean by “visual art”?

Visual arts that are eligible for Terra Foundation funding vary by program area as follows:

  • Exhibition programs: Painting; sculpture; works on paper (prints, drawings, watercolors, photographs); decorative arts (typically handmade functional objects of high aesthetic quality); design (objects of high aesthetic quality; excludes industrial design); performance art; video art; and conceptual art. Excludes architecture and commercial film/animation.
  •  Ongoing academic program: All visual art categories except architecture and commercial film/animation. We favor programs that place objects and practices in an art historical perspective.
  •  Other program areas: See individual program pages for details.

For projects addressing categories not listed, please contact

How do I know if my organization is eligible to receive a grant?

All our grants have specific eligibility guidelines. See the Grant Opportunities for Institutions section of this website for more information.

How do I know if I, as an individual, am eligible to receive a grant?

All our grants have specific eligibility guidelines. See the Grant & Fellowship Opportunities for Individuals section of this website for more information.

When should I apply for a grant?

For exhibition grants, applications should be submitted in time for the grant to be acknowledged in the exhibition catalogue, which typically means submitting a formal “Letter of Inquiry” at least one year (or earlier) before the opening of an exhibition’s first venue.

For all other programs, the timeline varies. However, it is a requirement that funding from the Terra Foundation must be acknowledged in all communication materials related to funded programs. Applicants should time their requests such that grant notification will come before any of these materials are produced or distributed.

What is a letter of inquiry (LOI)? Do all grant programs require one?

A letter of inquiry is a short presentation of your grant request that is used by the Terra Foundation to determine whether to invite a full proposal. Most grant programs require letters of inquiry, however, some (Research Travel Grants, for instance) do not. Please visit the web page for the program you’re interested in for more details outlining application procedures.

How much money should I request? Is there an average grant amount?

Terra Foundation grant size varies by program area and by project. To get an idea of the scale and scope of our grants, please visit the Grants Awarded page.

When making a request, what would qualify as an “indirect cost”?

Indirect Costs (sometimes called overhead or administrative costs) include items that are associated with operating the organization as a whole, such as administrative staff salaries, rent, utilities, office supplies, etc. Direct Costs are the expenses directly associated with a project.

How should I submit my application materials?

Our application process has moved to an online system. Please visit the web page for the program you’re interested in for more details outlining application process.

What is your review process? How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

The grant review and selection process varies by program area. Generally, proposals are evaluated by a combination of external readers who are experts in the field, Terra Foundation staff, and the Terra Foundation Board of Directors.

How can I check the status of my application?

When there is an update regarding the status of your application, the Terra Foundation will contact you. For a general idea of the timeline of this communication, please refer to the deadline schedule of your grant. Additional questions may be directed to

Why did you decline my proposal?

The Terra Foundation’s grant programs are very competitive. The foundation has limited resources and cannot fund every request we receive.

Can I send submit my application for review prior to the application deadline?

A final grant application can be submitted any time prior to the deadline. The Terra Foundation does not currently review drafts of grant applications prior to final submission.

If my grant application has been declined, may I reapply?

The Terra Foundation does not consider projects more than once. You are welcome to apply for support for a different project.

How will I receive my grant award?

The Terra Foundation works with awardees to determine the best method to receive an award. Generally, payment is sent via check or wire transfer.

What is a Terra Collection Initiative? Who is eligible for these? How can I apply?

Terra Collection Initiatives are collaborative exhibitions and programs between the Terra Foundation and its partners. They are intended to further scholarship on the foundation’s collection of American art and make significant contributions to the study of historical American art. They are developed and overseen by our curatorial staff in collaboration with our institutional partners. As such, they are not grant programs and do not accept applications. Please visit the Terra Collection Initiatives page for more information.

Who can I contact if I have more questions?

Questions not addressed here may be directed to