Samuel H. Kress Foundation: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: The Samuel H. Kress Foundation does not have a large endowment, but it does support a variety of scholarly work in the field of art history. The foundation has generally provided a few million dollars annually in the form of research grants and fellowships in art history, art conservation, and digital resources.

IP TAKE: The foundation’s application process is comprehensive—3 to 5 pages, plus color illustrations, if possible. Higher education projects likely face stiff competition.

PROFILE: Founded in 1929, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation seeks to “support [for] the work of individuals and institutions engaged with the appreciation, interpretation, preservation, study and teaching of the history of European art and architecture from antiquity to the dawn of the modern era.” Each year the foundation invests several million dollars into museums, post-secondary institutions and a few libraries, but the grant dollars go around. The foundation conducts grantmaking through three programs concerning History of Art, Conservation, and Digital Resources.

 The foundation’s History of Art program supports “scholarly projects that will enhance the understanding and appreciation of European art and architecture.” Projects receiving past support include everything from museum exhibitions to technical and scientific studies. This leaves a wide berth for art historians looking for funding. The Conservation program supports the “professional practice of art conservation, including conservation research, scholarly publications, international conferences and symposia.” In the past, colleges and universities have received grants in all of these areas, but in recent years the foundation has awarded fewer grants through this program. Lastly, Kress's Digital Resources program supports the integration of “new technologies into the practice of art history and the creation of important online resources in art history, including both textual and visual resources.” The main objective of the program is “to foster new forms of research and collaboration as well as new approaches to teaching and learning,” though a variety of other projects may also receive funding.

In addition to institutional grants, Kress also offers Professional Development Fellowships for “art historians and art conservators in the final stages of their preparation for professional careers, as well as to students of art history and related fields who are interested in art museum education and curating.” Fellowships include the History of Art, Conservation and Interpretive Fellowships at Art Museums. Each fellowship selects six winners to receive a one- to two-year internship at select institutions. As with the foundation’s grants, the largest share of funding among these programs has recently gone to History of Art.

Grants generally range from $5,000 to $45,000. The foundation provides a “representative sample” of past grants dating back to 2006, while full listings of previous years' awards are available in the foundation’s annual reports.

Applications for funding are program-specific, and can be found under the appropriate heading of the foundation’s How to Apply page.

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