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Terra Foundation for American Art: Re-envisioning Permanent Collections: A Special Initiative for US Museums

The Terra Foundation is pleased to launch a new two-year initiative as Phase Two of its recovery grant program for museums in the United States, including those in metropolitan Chicago. Phase One of the recovery program began as a means of offering immediate financial assistance in response to COVID-19 and the effects of shutdowns and other measures necessitated by the pandemic. Through this second phase, we continue to assist with the financial challenges faced by art institutions. Recognizing the urgency of addressing inequities in the presentation and discussion of American art, we are especially interested in projects that can help organizations meaningfully advance their work to become more diverse, equitable, accessible, and inclusive.

In support of these goals, the Terra Foundation reached out to organizations across the United States and in Chicago to assess future directions and financial needs, which revealed a pervasive interest in mining permanent collections to tell stories that convey more expansive views of American art. Grant proposals will be reviewed by an external panel comprising curators who are specialists in American art and who reflect a diverse range of backgrounds, perspectives, and approaches.

The Terra Foundation will support projects that engage permanent collections in order to offer more diverse, equitable, accessible, and inclusive histories of American art and visitor experiences. Grants will offset planning and/or implementation costs for:

  • permanent collection reinstallations
  • temporary exhibitions drawn primarily from a museum’s permanent collection or that join other collections’ holdings

We anticipate that individual grants will range between $25,000 and $75,000. The Terra Foundation encourages proposals from museums of varying sizes, annual budgets, and geographic regions.


Spring 2021 decisions
Letter of Inquiry: November 2, 2020
Proposal: January 8, 2021
Projects should begin no sooner than April 1, 2021


The Terra Foundation for American Art uses an online grant making system. Review the FAQ for additional information on the online application process.

The grant application process is three-part:

  1. Before submitting a formal proposal to the Terra Foundation, prospective applicants must complete a letter of inquiry (LOI) by following this link: Re-envisioning Permanent Collections.
  2. After reviewing the letter of inquiry, the foundation may invite the submission of an online formal grant proposal.
  3. Formal grant proposals undergo a review process before final decisions are made by the foundation’s Board of Directors.

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. A prospective applicant can expect to hear from the foundation within three weeks of receipt of its letter. The online Letter of Inquiry will require the following information:

  • Brief statement of the organization’s purpose and goals
  • Description of the project, including its beginning and ending dates
  • Objectives of the project
  • Other organizing partners and funding sources and amounts for the project, if relevant
  • Preliminary or draft object list
  • Total cost of project and the grant amount requested

All letters must be written in English.

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

While the formal proposal must be submitted through the online system, you may download a PDF of the application for your reference: Download the Sample Re-envisioning Permanent Collections Application.

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