A woman stands holding a paper scroll. The scroll is unraveling and bunched up in a large pile on the floor of an exhibition space.
Installation view of Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965-1975, courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Photo by Libby Weiler.

Past/Present: An Exhibition Initiative for US Museums

We are no longer accepting applications for this program. Learn about our exhibition grant program and sign up for our newsletter to receive announcements about future exhibition grant programs.

About the Program

The Terra Foundation recognizes the important conversations taking place within the United States today and that museums are central to their exploration and circulation. The foundation launched an initiative that opens a new area of funding for US museums within its responsive exhibition program. This initiative supports temporary exhibitions that demonstrate historical art of the US’s connections with more recent art and conversations of current relevance.

The Terra Foundation seeks exhibition projects organized by and shown at US museums that address all of the following:

  • Focus on an issue of current relevance. A wide range of topics could be addressed; applicants will describe how the exhibition presentation engages with the topic.
  • Connect and display pre-1980 art and more recent art: at least some of the works must be by US artists and date to before 1980; the quantity of recent art may vary, yet the selection must be in meaningful and integral dialogue with the historical works in the exhibition, and vice versa.
  • Offer probing scholarship, with new insights that are addressed within both the exhibition and the catalogue; a publication is required.
  • Demonstrate originality in approach and presentation, as well as meaningful engagement with intended audiences during exhibition development.

Past/Present: An Exhibition Initiative for US Museums grant proposals are be reviewed by an external panel of specialists in American art.

Eligibility

The foundation only accepts proposals from institutions with United States 501(c)(3) status located in the United States. If co-organizing with another museum, co-organizers must apply jointly. When possible, the Terra Foundation prefers to only fund shared costs for co-organizing venues. Exhibition grants are not made to individuals.

This exhibition initiative requires that exhibitions do the following:

  • Focus on an issue of current relevance. A wide range of topics could be addressed; applicants will describe how the exhibition presentation engages with the topic.
  • Connect and display pre-1980 art and more recent art: at least some of the works must be by US artists and date to before 1980; the quantity of recent art may vary, yet the selection must be in meaningful and integral dialogue with the historical works in the exhibition, and vice versa.
  • Offer probing scholarship, with new insights that are addressed within both the exhibition and the catalogue; a publication is required.
  • Demonstrate originality in approach and presentation, as well as meaningful engagement with intended audiences during exhibition development.

The Terra Foundation does not accept proposals for:

  • Artist commissions;
  • Exhibitions primarily comprised of artist interventions with historical material;
  • Acquisitions or capital expenditures;
  • Exhibitions primarily comprised of single private or commercial collections;
  • Exhibitions without catalogues;
  • Online exhibitions;
  • Permanent collection installations;
  • Exhibitions previously opened touring to new venues;
  • Exhibitions previously declined by the Terra Foundation.

We will only accept one proposal per exhibition. The proposal must come from the organizing institution(s).

If you have questions about our our grant initiatives, please visit the Grant FAQs page, contact [email protected], or contact Program Director of Exhibition & Academic Grants, Carrie Haslett at [email protected]