NEH Grant to Expand Philadelphia Museum of Art Gallery

The grants will support the renovation of the 1928 main building to create ten new galleries for the display and interpretation of the museum's Early American Art collection.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has been awarded grants totaling nearly $1 million from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The two grants, a $500,000 challenge grant (which requires the museum to raise matching funds from non-federal sources) and a $400,000 outright grant, will be used to expand, reinstall, and interpret the museum’s Early American Art galleries.

The museum holds a collection of over 12,000 items of early American art. The objects date from the colonial era to the first half of the nineteenth century and represent a great number of early American artists, including Charles Willson Peale and Benjamin West.

The grants will support the renovation of the 1928 main building to create ten new galleries in 11,000 square feet of space. The current restaurant and book store will be removed during renovations to provide the extra gallery space needed. The senior curator of the Early American Art collection, Kathy Foster, anticipates that the newly renovated sections will begin opening to the public in June 2020 

A total of $13.2 million in grants was distributed by the NEH in August, 2018, to twenty-nine cultural institutions to support infrastructure projects including renovations and equipment updates. The infrastructure grants were established in January. Fiscal Year 2019 is the first time they have been awarded. Two other Philadelphia institutions – Temple University’s English department and the Rendell Center for Civics and Civic Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center – were also chosen to receive grants under the new program. Temple’s grant will support a digital project tracking changing knowledge in a century of Encyclopedia Brittanica volumes, while the Rendell Center will use the grant to fund a weeklong seminar on the First Amendment for teachers. Both institutions were granted $100,000 outright.

A full list of recipients for the infrastructure grants is available on the NEH’s website (note: link will open as a PDF file).