By Mark Isaksen
IMLS Senior Program Officer
As a resident of Washington, D.C. it’s been exciting for me to watch the years of planning and ongoing construction of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture that opened last Saturday, September 24, 2016. It’s a stunning building located across from the Washington Monument on National Mall and reminds us all of the central place that African Americans hold in our national history. While we celebrate the opening of the national museum, we also want to acknowledge the work of African American museums across the country, and especially those who have received support from the IMLS Museum Grants for African American History and Culture (AAHC) Program.
Created by Congress in the same act that authorized the Smithsonian to build the National Museum of African American History and Culture, IMLS’s AAHC grant program is designed to support the ongoing work of African American museums across the country. With 137 grants awarded since 2006 – representing about $13.8 million of federal funds matched with $15.3 million of non-federal funds – we have built capacity in the field to create stronger and more resilient organizations, to care for museum collections with local and national significance, and to develop exhibitions and educational materials that tell the African American story to new generations.
IMLS’s AAHC grants help connect the local stories told by African American museums and historic sites in cities and towns like Wichita, Kansas; Evansville, Indiana; Concord, Massachusetts; and Macon, Georgia with the larger narratives of African American history that are told here in Washington, D.C. We recently announced the grant recipients for 2016 and you’ll see there a whole variety of projects in locations around the country that were supported this year.
My colleagues and I are so proud of the work support by this grant program and pleased to announce our next application deadline of December 1, 2016. This program is designed to support museums that have a primary purpose of African American History and Culture, as well as any of the 106 federally designated HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). For detailed information and instructions on how to apply for an AAHC grant, take a look at our grant guidelines.
The Office of Museum Services Program Staff will be hosting a webinar for potential applicants on October 13, 2016, at 2PM and hope that you will join us to learn more about the program and get answers to any questions you have may have about the application process.