Grants of up to $50,000 support the early stages of a project. Every curator begins differently: Some start in archives and collections, others in artists’ studios, and some develop ideas alongside programmatic partners. This grant is meant to offer support for thesecritical exploratory phases of curatorial work, independent of a public-facing component of the future project. We do not require that research and development grants lead to an exhibition or public-facing project.
Eligible research and development expenses can include costs directly related to travel, archival research, pilot projects, prototyping, and other exploratory activities, including convenings of colleagues, scholars, practitioners, and community members. In addition to funds for their own work, curators may apply for assistance for collaborators such as artists, programmatic partners, or catalogue contributors to create work that further informs the curatorial process. This grant can also cover personnel costs related to research assistance. Finally, it can provide institutional support to cover administrative or other needs while curators take leave to conduct their research. This use can comprise up to 60% of the requested award.
Please consult our FAQ for information on how applications are evaluated, and our 2023 grantee list for examples of the range of initiatives we support.
The five parts of the research and development application are described below.
1. Proposed project
In 750 words or less, describe your project.
+ Tell us about your project. Why have you chosen to spotlight these artist(s)? This specific area of study?
+ How does your overall vision and approach fit within a broader spectrum of issues in the field? Are there other curatorial projects you have witnessed or come across in research that influence your thinking, or pressing dialogues that you want to engage?
+ What are your research methods and what resources will you use? For instance, are you seeking funds for yourself for travel to archives or artists’ studios, to convene peers, and/or to take a leave for research? Or, are you seeking support for an artist or collaborator to conduct research or prototype a potential project, such as an artwork, an experimental platform, or a forum? Why is this dedicated funding critical to the formation of your project?
+ What is your projected timeline?
+ If your project is co-organized with partners, or structured around collaborations, why have you chosen to work together? How do your respective capacities and knowledge support the aims of your project?
Please summarize the above in 100 words or less,
Please provide ten images with 100-word captions to illustrate your proposed project. If the images feature artworks, please include the artist's name, the title of the work, the materials used, and the date of creation. Additional context on the images and why you included them is encouraged. Ensure that the images are in .jpg format, at least 72 dpi DPI, a minimum of 2000 x 2000 pixels in size, and do not exceed 5 MB each.
2. Past project
In 500 words or less, describe a past curatorial project to provide context for your proposed project and to give us a sense of your curatorial values.
+ What did you learn from this past project that will inform the one you are proposing? What are you carrying forward, revising, or leaving behind?
+ If your involvement in the past project was as a collaborator or assistant, what were your specific contributions? What did you learn from the lead curator?
+ If this is a collaborative proposal, tell us about a previous collaboration with this or another partner, and how it turned out.
You may provide up to five links with captions up to 100 words to help us understand your past project. These links can direct us to dedicated project websites or related digital content; visual materials such as installation shots, floorplans, digital walkthroughs, or videos; text documentation including publications, brochures, or reviews; or personal or organizational websites if relevant. Use the caption fields to identify the links and why you included them. If any link requires a password for access, please remember to include it.
3. Project budget
Submit a project budget including pending and confirmed income and expenses. Samples of research and development budgets are available here.
+ You may request $25,000 or $50,000.
+ Budgets should incorporate any expenses related to research materials, travel and accommodation, collaboration, documentation, and dissemination, along with consultancy fees and administrative or personnel costs for curators to take leave while they conduct their research.
+ Costs related to supporting a curator’s research leave—including hiring someone to manage administrative responsibilities in their absence—can comprise up to 60% of the requested award.
+ Robust fees for artists, if your project engages them at an early stage, are highly recommended. Please refer to W.A.G.E. standards for guidance. We also encourage robust compensation for all outside consultants, partners, and advisors, as well as other collaborators such as writers, designers, photographers, web developers, etc.
4. Organization budget
Submit your organization’s operating budgets for the past, current, and future fiscal years. If your project involves a partnership, submit the operating budgets for the lead partner's organization only.
5. Proof of 501(c)(3) status
If this research and development proposal is a partnership, please submit proof of 501(c)(3) status for the lead partner’s organization only.
Questions you may have
How does the research and development grant differ from the single project grant?
The research and development grant is intended for the early stages of a curatorial project. It allows grantees to explore their initial concepts, conduct research, and develop a robust curatorial vision. This grant can support a range of needs, including travel funding or other financial support for various contributors to your project, such as artists, programmatic partners, catalogue contributors, etc.
In contrast, the single project grant aids curators in the actual manifestation of these plans in a tangible, public-facing exhibition or program. While the research and development grant provides the resources to lay a strong foundation for a project, the single project grant is designed to bring the curator’s vision to life for a public audience. If you anticipate that your project will manifest publicly after the grant period, you should consider applying for a research and development grant.
Can I use the research and development grant to take a leave and delegate my administrative tasks? How would that work?
Yes. Up to 60% of the research and development grant can be allocated to cover personnel or administrative costs at your organization while you are away. Should you decide to take a leave, the grant can help your organization hire someone to cover your administrative responsibilities in your absence. This grant's structure is designed to support and encourage such opportunities, ensuring both continuity in your regular duties and depth in your research endeavors. We understand that this support extends beyond just funding—it requires planning. If you're granted the award, we're open to discussing how it might best support both your curatorial work and your organization’s needs.
Here are the guidelines above as a PDF.