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Henry Luce Foundation Awards $5.5 Million for American Art Renewal Fund

The Henry Luce Foundation has awarded 57 American Art Renewal Fund (AARF) grants to museums across the country for a total of nearly $5.5 million. The AARF initiative was established in 2010 to strengthen museums’ American art programs in response to the economic downturn that forced widespread layoffs, cancellation of exhibitions, modified capital projects, deferred building maintenance, shortened public hours and increased admission fees. It was completed in November 2011.

Instead of its typical project grants, the Luce Foundation considered requests for operating support restricted to American art activities — personnel, maintenance, capital needs, cash reserves and debt-reduction were among eligible expenses. The AARF initiative was open to 93 art museums, all prior grantees with successful track records fulfilling Luce-funded projects. Applicants were required to describe how the economic downturn affected their overall institution, specifically the American art activities, and how an AARF grant would assist in the museum’s recovery.

Proposals were evaluated based on the urgency of circumstances, significance of anticipated outcomes and feasibility of work plan. Luce Foundation staff was initially advised by the Nonprofit Finance Fund, a specialist in fiscal analysis and technical assistance for cultural organizations.

The American Art Renewal Fund was a departure for the Foundation, but it built on a significant investment supporting American art. During the past 30 years, the Foundation has awarded approximately $140 million for American art programs and research at some 250 museums and universities. The AARF initiative enabled the Foundation to respond strategically to the crisis at American art museums, while maintaining the objectives of its own longstanding American art program. The AARF grants ranged from $30,000 to $200,000, and the recipient museums represent 30 states and the District of Columbia. Their annual operating budgets range from $500,000 to $65 million, with the vast majority running organizations with under $10 million a year. A complete list of recipients follows:

  • Akron Art Museum, Akron, OH – $55,000 to support a full-time assistant curator and a part-time art handler position for one year.
  • The Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, Saint Joseph, MO – $55,000 to restore off-site programs and upgrade technological equipment.
  • Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, TX – $100,000 to hire curatorial research assistants for photography and for prints and drawings.
  • Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AR – $168,000 to restore the curator of drawings and curator of contemporary craft positions.
  • Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD – $135,000 to support American art personnel.
  • Bennington Museum, Bennington, VT – $45,000 to provide deferred building maintenance.
  • Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL – $125,000 to provide bridge support for the American art curator and funds for travel, research, and to sustain the exhibition program.
  • Brandywine River Museum, Chadds Ford, PA – $105,000 to restore a part-time assistant librarian position, replace the assistant curator and contribute to cost of living raises.
  • Brookgreen Gardens, Pawleys Island, SC – $100,000 to retrofit the archives/library space.
  • Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY – $100,000 to maintain ongoing American art activities.
  • The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH – $100,000 to replace part of the Museum’s heating and ventilation system.
  • Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Cedar Rapids, IA – $80,000 for cash reserves, collection research and to refurbish the permanent collection exhibition.
  • Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA – $125,000 for the curator’s position and glass collection research.
  • Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH – $45,000 to support two curatorial research assistants.
  • Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH – $120,000 toward the general American art budget.
  • Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH – $87,500 to support a curatorial and collections assistant position.
  • The Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA – $50,000 to replace computer equipment.
  • Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH – $130,000 for the assistant curator and librarian positions.
  • The Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, OH – $110,000 to support the chief curator’s position.
  • Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE – $55,000 to support the associate curator of contemporary art for one year.
  • Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI – $190,000 to rehabilitate and maintain the American art galleries.
  • Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, ME – $175,000 for bridge funds.
  • Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, MI – $85,000 for the associate curator, assistant registrar, and storage racks.
  • Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, CT – $60,000 to support the assistant curator position.
  • High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA – $60,000 to support a part-time American art curatorial assistant and research travel funds for two years.
  • Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC – $175,000 for building repairs, hiring of two temporary curatorial assistants and travel funds for curatorial research.
  • Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, WV – $65,000 to partially retire the Museum’s debt.
  • Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, MI – $55,000 for a staff position for the permanent collection.
  • Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London, CT – $90,000 to support a full-time curatorial position and to replace the boiler.
  • Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI – $165,000 for the American art curator position and to reinstall the American art collection.
  • Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN – $80,000 to support operating expenses for the Prairie School Purcell-Cutts House.
  • Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, AL – $75,000 to restore staffing and ongoing American art programming.
  • Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY – $35,000 to partially support a curatorial assistant for two years.
  • National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC – $80,000 toward the registrar and exhibition design expenses.
  • The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO – $90,000 to support the American art curatorial assistant for two years and to upgrade electronic access to the collection.
  • Newark Museum, Newark, NJ – $200,000 to support two collection-related positions, computer software licenses to maintain collection access, and the partial cost of a new fire alarm system.
  • New-York Historical Society, New York, NY – $70,000 to support the assistant curator position for one year.
  • North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC – $75,000 to partially support the American art curator, the modern/contemporary art curator, and collection research and travel for one year.
  • Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY – $50,000 for debt reduction.
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA – $200,000 to offset endowment losses for key American art curators, supplement collection research, and bolster the American art fellowship program.
  • Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR – $50,000 to restore American art staff furloughs and toward the Northwest art curator position.
  • Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME – $85,000 to support the chief curator position.
  • Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Winston-Salem, NC – $62,000 to support two collections-related positions.
  • Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA – $100,000 toward the salaries of exhibition-related positions.
  • Millicent Rogers Museum, Taos, NM – $40,000 for debt reduction.
  • San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, TX – $60,000 to support the general upkeep of the American art collection.
  • Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA – $150,000 for the Native American curator and the American art insurance fund.
  • Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, VT – $93,000 to cover endowment shortfall that supports several American art staff positions.
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC – $85,000 toward a senior curator, part-time exhibition specialist, and part-time program assistant.
  • Springfield Library and Museums Association, Springfield, MA – $90,000 to support the art preparator for one year and a part-time curatorial assistant for two years.
  • Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH – $75,000 to maintain American art research, exhibitions, publications and public programs.
  • Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT – $175,000 toward the senior curator, decorative arts curator and curatorial assistant positions.
  • Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN – $100,000 to hire a senior curator.
  • Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY – $195,000 to restore a senior library assistant position and support a part-time archivist each for three years.
  • Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, KS – $50,000 to subsidize salaries and reduce staff furloughs.
  • Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA – $75,000 to reinstall the decorative arts galleries and to support the curatorial assistant position.
  • Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, MT – $30,000 toward cash reserves and debt service.

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