If you've ever taken a tour of the U.S. Capitol, you'll know that perched atop the dome is the Statue of Freedom, the female figure wearing a military helmet and holding a sheathed sword in her right hand and a laurel wreath and shield in her left.
As with most statues in D.C., symbolism is important. The statue faces east, and so those of us civic-minded IP writers vaguely recall that this was no accident. The warrior-statue was intentionally looking east, taunting the calcified motherland of Europe, saying, "Nice knowing you, Old World!"
Indeed, stepping out of Europe's enormous shadow has been a driving force in the arts world here in the states dating back to the Transcendentalists. But that doesn't mean many funders aren't keen on boosting appreciation for European art. Take the Kress Foundation, for example.
As previously noted, Kress is an important player in the field of art history and conversation. What's more, they cast a wide net. In the last few years, while Kress grant support has totaled roughly $3.5 million, the money has supported more than 137 grants.
Kress' footprint is particularly prominent in the European arts space. For example, it offers six pre-doctoral Kress Institutional Fellowships in the history of European art for a two-year research appointment in association with one of six foreign host institutions, as well as nine Kress Conservation Fellowships for one-year internships in advanced conservation at a museum or conservation facility.
And now comes word that the foundation is accepting applications for its History of Art grant program, which supports scholarly projects that enhance the appreciation and understanding of European art and architecture, from antiquity to the dawn of the modern era.
Grants are awarded to projects that "create and disseminate specialized knowledge, including archival projects, the development and dissemination of scholarly databases, documentation projects, museum exhibitions and publications, photographic campaigns, scholarly catalogs and publications, and technical and scientific studies."
The program also supports activities that permit art historians to share their expertise through international exchanges, professional meetings, conferences, symposia, consultations, the presentation of research, and other professional events.
In previous years, grant amounts have ranged from $1,000 to $100,000. Click here for the compete RFP.
One last point. If this focus on European art leaves your inner jingoist slightly unsatisfied, don't worry, you have options. Namely, the Aaron Copland Fund for Music's performance grants, recently profiled here, which encourages the public knowledge and appreciation of contemporary American music by living or recently deceased American composers.