Our Commemorative Landscape
What is the Monuments Project?
The Monuments Project is a five-year, $250 million commitment to reimagine and rebuild commemorative spaces and transform the way history is told in the United States. The project is one of Mellon’s signature initiatives under its President, Elizabeth Alexander.
What will the Monuments Project do?
The project seeks to ensure that future generations inherit a memorial landscape that venerates and reflects the vast, rich complexity of the American experience, and tells a fuller, more inclusive story of our history and our many different forbearers.
All grants under the Monuments Project will be distributed under three areas of activity:
The Monuments Project will support the work of scholars, artists, storytellers, and communities around the country who are deeply and fearlessly engaged with the question of monuments on a collaborative level.
Why has Mellon decided to pursue this initiative now?
Monuments and memorials instruct us in our understanding of the past. They shape powerful national narratives that say some of us ought to be visible and celebrated, and some of us ought to be invisible and ignored. Our country’s current monument landscape offers an incomplete — and even inaccurate — picture of our gloriously complex and diverse history.
An expansion of the Foundation’s preservation-related grantmaking, the Monuments Project has taken on greater urgency in recent months. Action and public debate have intensified rapidly as many monuments stand at the center of an impassioned national conversation about race and power.
How does the Monuments Project connect to the Mellon Foundation’s mission?
The Monuments Project holds true to Mellon’s unwavering commitment to deep knowledge and scholarship, and its belief in the importance of history, the arts, culture, and the humanities in the public sphere.
In aiming to help shape a commemorative landscape that celebrates the contributions of the many diverse communities that make up the United States, the Monuments Project builds on the Foundation’s enduring efforts to expand the historical and cultural record and affirms its mission to undertake grantmaking within a social justice framework.
Has the Mellon Foundation undertaken monument grantmaking before?
Yes. Since 2018, the Foundation has made several meaningful grants to help reshape the American public history and memory landscape, including to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, which distributes preservation funds to important sites of African American history; to the Mayor’s Fund for the City of New York to build a new monument honoring the abolitionist Lyons family in Central Park; and to the center for education, interpretation, and art at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. With the Monuments Project, Mellon seeks to dramatically scale this previous work to meet the demands of our unprecedented moment.
How will Mellon decide which artists and/or organizations will receive these Monuments Project grants?
The Monuments Project will unfold in deep collaboration with historians, artists, architects, memory workers, theorists, archivists, activists, and technologists along with nonprofit organizations, grassroots community organizers, scholars, and others who have laid the critical foundations for recent conversations and who have long interrogated the politics of race, public space, and memorialization.
Mellon’s grants will support far-sighted, creative, conversation-shaping work that will catalyze the transformation of our nation’s histories.
The first major grant issued under the Monuments Project is $4 million to support Monument Lab in Philadelphia. Monument Lab is an independent public art and research studio that works with artists, activists, and community leaders in cities across the country to reenvision public spaces through stories of social justice and equity. Among other commemorative-research efforts undertaken with the support of Mellon’s three-year grant, Monument Lab will conduct a definitive audit of the existing monument landscape in the United States.
Is the Monuments Project an open call for proposals?
No. The Monuments Project is a five-year initiative, not a one-time open call. As with most of the Foundation’s programs, proposals are accepted by invitation only. If you would like to submit an grant-related inquiry, please do so through Fluxx.
What is the deadline for submitting an application to the Monuments Project?
There is no deadline as this is not an open call for proposals.
Who is eligible to apply for funding?
The Mellon Foundation makes grants to 501(c)(3) organizations in the United States and to a small number of grantees abroad. The Foundation does not provide grants directly to individuals.
What amount of funds can applicants request?
Program staff work with potential grantees to identify appropriate grant amounts.
Is the Monuments Project restricted to US institutions?
The major focus of the Monuments Project is on US institutions. However, in certain circumstances, the Monuments Project may include grants to strategically resonant projects abroad.
Can individuals outside of the US apply or do they need to have links to US academies?
The Mellon Foundation does not provide grants to individuals.