Dec. 15, 2022
Contact: Judith Cebula
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Grants are expanding effort to help cultural institutions strengthen the public understanding of religion nationwide


INDIANAPOLIS – Lilly Endowment Inc. has awarded grants to 16 museums and other cultural institutions across the United States to help them develop exhibitions and education programs that fairly and accurately portray the role of religion in the U.S. and around the world.

Grants totaling more than $39 million will support a range of organizations that include the King Center in Atlanta, the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis and the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. This is the second round of grants the Endowment has made through its Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative.

“Museums and other cultural institutions are some of the most trusted organizations in American life today, and they play a vital role in teaching visitors about the world,” said Christopher L. Coble, the Endowment’s vice president for religion. “These organizations will undertake efforts to help visitors understand and appreciate the religious beliefs and practices of diverse religious communities and the impact that religion has had and continues to have on society.”

Grants range in amount from $1,926,655 to $3 million. The organizations will use the funds to develop projects that align with their missions and are appropriate for their constituencies. Many will draw on existing collections to mount temporary or permanent exhibitions featuring religious themes. Some will develop projects or exhibitions focused on particular religious traditions or religion in specific historical periods or in particular regions.

Among the organizations funded are:

  • Children’s Museum Houston in Houston, which is developing the Faithful Friends Exhibition project to encourage children and families to build tolerance, respect and love for those who have religious beliefs and traditions different from their own.
  • Mount Vernon Ladies Association in Mount Vernon, VA, which is developing the Interpreting Religion at Mount Vernon project, which will incorporate religion into its interpretation of the estate of George Washington and early American history.
  • National Museum of African American Music in Nashville, TN, which will develop an exhibition about the Fisk Jubilee Singers, a group of performers from Nashville’s Fisk University that broke racial barriers beginning in the late 1800s by increasing awareness of African American spirituals in the United States and around the world.
  • United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., which will expand programming in religion and establish an endowment for the director for the Program on Ethics, Religion and the Holocaust. Efforts will include helping clergy and other religious thought leaders examine the relationship between the Holocaust and Christian traditions

Learn more about the complete list of grants here.

These grants build directly on insights and experiences from previous Endowment grants to museums and cultural organizations to mount exhibitions and engage in educational activities that lift up and explore religion in various contexts, including within different cultures and time periods.

Through the Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative, the Endowment in 2020 awarded the first round of grants totaling $45 million to help 18 organizations develop new programs, mount new exhibitions and establish endowments to support ongoing efforts about religion. Those organizations included the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Mo., and the Heard Museum in Phoenix.

About Lilly Endowment
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community developmenteducation and religion.  Although the Endowment maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana, it also funds programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion.  While the primary aim of its religion grantmaking focuses on strengthening the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States, the Endowment also seeks to foster public understanding about religion and lift up in fair, accurate and balanced ways the contributions that people of all faiths and diverse religious communities make to our greater civic well-being.