Museum Awarded $500,000 Endowment Challenge from the National Endowment for the Humanities

The New Bedford Whaling Museum has been selected to receive a $500,000 Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the largest award possible through this grant program. The prestigious grant is the result of a highly competitive national application process. The Museum has four years to raise $1.5 million in new gifts to meet the challenge.

“This level of recognition from the National Endowment for the Humanities is a great honor, and I have every confidence that the Museum’s supporters will step up to meet this ambitious challenge,” said James Russell, President and CEO of the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

In a letter supporting the Challenge Grant application, Senator John Kerry wrote that growth in the Museum’s endowment “will ensure its long-term success, and further enhance its ability to share our rich history with residents and visitors from around the world.”

Congressman Barney Frank, who advocated for this award, noted, “the museum serves as an invaluable and unique resource that has been of great benefit to both scholars and the general public.  This funding will have a long-term impact, ensuring that the museum will be able to sustain and grow its highly-respected humanities exhibitions and educational programs for future generations.”

Each year a percentage of the permanent endowment’s value is disbursed, which funds approximately 7% of the Museum’s operating expenses. These include exhibitions, educational programming, collections care, and all public programs.

“The Museum relies on charitable contributions for more than 75% of our operating funding each year,” said Russell, “The endowment helps relieve some of that pressure by providing a reliable annual income stream. The NEH Challenge Grant represents an exciting milestone toward our long-term goal to have 25% of annual expenses covered by the endowment.”

The Museum’s grant received the NEH’s We the People designation in recognition of efforts to strengthen the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture.

Senator Mark Montigny, Representative Tony Cabral, New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang, New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park superintendent Jen Nersesian, and New Bedford Public Schools superintendent Dr. Mary Louise Francis all contributed letters of support for the Museum’s application.

The National Endowment for the Humanities is an independent federal agency dedicated to supporting cultural initiatives throughout the country by providing grants to improve classroom learning, museum exhibitions, and programs in libraries and other institutions.

For more information contact:
Maureen Coleman, Senior Director of Development
508 997-0046, ext. 116

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