June 4, 2020

IMLS Awards $2.7 Million in Support of African American History and Culture
Federal Investments in Museums, HBCUs, Cultural Heritage Organizations Generate Additional $2.6 Million

Washington, DC—The Institute of Museum and Library Services today announced 22 grants to museums totaling $2,731,000 through the Museum Grants for African American History and Culture (AAHC) program, generating an additional $2,584,312 in matching funds. Fifty-eight organizations requested grants totaling $8,226,629.

Museum Grants for African American History and Culture (AAHC) support activities that build the capacity of African American museums and support the growth and development of museum professionals at African American museums. The program received an increase of $500,000 in FY 2020 Congressional appropriations.

"IMLS has long supported museums, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and related organizations who are dedicated to the preservation and celebration of African American history and culture,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “These grants represent the agency’s deep commitment to the advancement of the essential work of our nation’s African American museums and HBCUs.”

 The National Museum of African American History and Culture Act authorized IMLS to establish grant programs for museums of African American history and culture in 2003. IMLS helps these museums and related organizations improve operations, enhance stewardship of collections, engage in professional development, and attract new professionals to the field. IMLS’s first AAHC grants were awarded in 2006, and since that time, IMLS has awarded grants totaling $20,282,735 of federal funds and $23,446,237 in matching funds.

“This year, we received a record number of applications in the fourteen-year history of the program, and among those, many first-time applicants,” said Paula Gangopadhyay, Deputy Director of Museum Services. “We are thrilled that nearly a million of this year’s funding will be supporting the work and contributions of eight HBCUs.”

A list of all projects funded are available in the awarded grants search. Examples include:

  • The North Carolina African American Heritage Commission will implement the next phase of its Africa to Carolina initiative, designed to recognize and interpret sites in the state where enslaved Africans disembarked directly from Africa. The project team will also create an online guide to existing tools for educators and the public about the slave trade, slave economy in North Carolina, and the legacy of enslavement.
  • Morgan State University will implement a comprehensive interpretive project based on archival collections documenting the life and work of Ellen Irene Diggs, the first African American woman to earn a doctorate in anthropology. An internship program for more than 40 undergraduate and graduate students and volunteers will focus on archival research, preservation, and anthropology. A professional development program, including workshops and instructional materials, will engage 90 teachers, resulting in enhanced curricula in humanities and social studies for over 400 K–12 students in each year of the project. Enhancement of public access to the collections will also include an online exhibit, student posters, and panels for the 117th annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association.
  • The Muhammad Ali Museum and Education Center will create a publicly accessible digital database to more broadly share the life and legacy of boxing champion and global humanitarian Muhammad Ali. The museum’s archive includes photographs, negatives, boxing contracts, fight posters and print materials, personal documents, film and video tapes, and physical artifacts. 7,000 newly digitized documents will be migrated to a new collections management system, and the project team will design a public-facing database. The project will enable access to information that was previously only available by visiting the museum in Ali’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

The Museum Grants for African American History and Culture program awards were part of $4.4 million in grants that IMLS announced this week. The agency also awarded $1.7 million through the Native American/Native Hawaiian Museum Services program.

More information about museum funding opportunities can be found on the IMLS website.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America's museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Museum Grants for African American History and Culture