San Antonio Museum of Art is on the receiving end of a massive grant, an unexpected windfall during a period of great economic uncertainty.
The National Endowment for the Humanities announced the recipients of its latest round of grants on July 27, bestowing $30 million in funds to 238 humanities projects across the nation. SAMA, which is counted among the city's — and state's — premier art museums, was awarded $100,000.
SAMA was awarded an NEH grant in the Public Humanities Projects Category for Exhibitions: Implementation, the goal of which is to "help support museum exhibitions, discussion programs, and interpretations of historic places that bring the ideas and insights of the humanities to life for general audiences." Only 17 other U.S. institutions received grants in this area.
The museum will use the $100,000 grant to produce its upcoming fall 2021 exhibition tentatively entitled, Art, Nature, and Myth in Ancient Rome. In its final notification to Congress, NEH describes the show as a temporary exhibition "about landscape imagery in Roman art from the late Republic and early Empire."
"The Museum is known for its classical collection [of] Greek and Roman sculpture, and this exhibition will introduce the public to the beginnings of landscape painting in Europe, as well as to myths and legends that grew from the spirituality and imagination of ancient Roman culture," said Emily Sano, SAMA's co-interim director and senior advisor for Asian art, in a statement to CultureMap.
"SAMA is grateful for the funding support of the National Endowment which will help realize this project during an international pandemic when all museums are suffering from losses in attendance and income."
Along with SAMA, one another local organization received an NEH grant. Our Lady of the Lake University was given $9,915 for the school's Special Collections on the Spanish Colonial and Mexican American Heritage of San Antonio and Texas. According to the congressional notification, the university will use the funds for "a preservation assessment and workshop on best practices for the care and handling of rare books, archival materials, and digitized special collections."
In total, nine Texas institutions received funding, totaling $1,495,719. The remaining funds largely went to universities, including the University of Texas at Austin, University of Texas at El Paso, the University of Houston, and Baylor University.
“These challenging times underscore how important the humanities are to making American culture and world history relatable across generations,” said NEH chairman Jon Parrish Peede in a release. “NEH is proud to award hundreds of grants to keep our nation’s scholars, students, teachers, and citizens moving forward in pursuit of new knowledge and understanding.”