Thursday, June 13, 2024

The Institute of Museum and Library Services Awards Nearly $6 Million in Grant Funding for African American History and Culture

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The Institute of Museum and Library Services has announced the FY24 recipients of its Museum Grants for African American History and Culture (AAHC). Awardees will receive up to $500,000 each for projects that build the capacity of African American museums or support the growth and development of museum professionals at African American Museums. This year, 30 institutions have been awarded a total of $5,916,807.

Since its establishment in 2006, the program has provided $35,714,804 million in funding to over 250 African American museums and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. By investing in these institutions, IMLS helps ensure that their histories are preserved and that their students have opportunities to explore the museum field. Independent research on the program indicates that 71% of grantees would not have completed their projects without the AAHC grant.

The announcement of these awards comes shortly before Juneteenth, a commemoration of the final enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation and a celebration of African American resilience. Like museums and institutions of higher education throughout the country, many of this year’s grantees will mark the occasion with special events. IMLS is proud to support them as they share our nation’s history.

“The history of the United States cannot be told without the inclusion of the African American experience,” said Acting IMLS Director Cyndee Landrum. “With these awards, IMLS furthers its commitment to African American museums and HBCUs and affirms their unique ability to protect, preserve and make accessible stories which have been systemically obscured.”

All awarded AAHC projects can be found on the IMLS website. Three of this year’s awardees are detailed below:

  • Motown Historical Museum
    Motown Historical Museum will improve the archival repository for its collection of over 20,000 objects that document Motown history. For the project, the museum will hire a registrar and a preparator to work with staff to update collections records, conduct environmental monitoring, and supervise the installation of archival storage units. By relocating the objects into the archival storage units in a new location, the museum will mitigate environmental risks to the collection and improve the accessibility of the collection for museum staff. Beneficiaries of this project will include scholars, musicians, and public researchers of Motown history.

  • Banneker Douglass Museum Foundation
    The Banneker-Douglass Museum will identify lineal descendants or communities that are culturally affiliated with the remains of 13 individuals of African descent that are currently housed at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory in Calvert County, Maryland. In collaboration with Maryland Historical Trust, Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture staff will conduct DNA analysis and research local history to determine lineal descendants. With the permission of descendants, project staff will commission facial reconstructions of the deceased individuals and coordinate reburial ceremonies. A university research Fellow will assist project staff in creating a local history research report, which will be made accessible online for a public audience. The project team will invite descendants to associated programming and lead public workshops on how to conduct genealogical research. 

  • Center for African American History and Culture & Library Services
    The Center for African American History & Culture at Virginia Union University will digitize and provide access to the Hartshorn Memorial College collection from the Archives and Special Collections at the L. Douglas Wilder Library. The collection documents the history of Hartshorn Memorial College, a women's college and Historically Black College that merged with Virginia Union University in 1932, and contains archival materials and primary resources such as documents, catalogs, photographs, and correspondence. Project staff will train and work with paid student interns to digitize the collection and provide public access to the collection through an online database. Beneficiaries of the project will include researchers and scholars of HBCU and women's history.

The Museum Grants for African American History and Culture Program is the second IMLS Museum Services program to announce its FY24 awardees. Recipients of the American Latino Museum Internship and Fellowship Initiative21st Century Museum Professionals ProgramInspire! Grants for Small MuseumsMuseums for America,Museums Empowered, and National Leadership Grants for Museums programs will be announced later this summer.

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. IMLS envisions a nation where individuals and communities have access to museums and libraries to learn from and be inspired by the trusted information, ideas, and stories they contain about our diverse natural and cultural heritage. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebookand LinkedIn.

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