Philadelphia, PA -
04/20/2010 - The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage announced today $706,154 in grants from the Heritage Philadelphia Program to nine cultural and heritage organizations. The program reviewed a total of 36 applications, the highest number ever received by the Heritage Philadelphia Program. This year’s grantees include three first-time applicants and five first-time grant recipients.
The Heritage Philadelphia Program provides resources that stimulate the public’s interest and understanding of history and its dynamic relationship to contemporary life. This includes support for preservation and interpretive programs that appeal to and directly engage a broad range of audiences and communities throughout our region.
Among the projects funded: The Legacy Center at Drexel University College of Medicine, founded in 1850 as the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania (the world’s first medical school for women), will develop a plan to use video game technology to attract teenagers, ages 12 to 18 years—a time when they are thinking through gender roles and weighing career options—to its digital library. The center’s archives piece together vivid stories of strong female figures like Eliza Ann Grier, an emancipated slave and one of the first female African-American alumnae of the college, and describe their hard-fought efforts in the late-eighteenth century to secure an education and a professional medical practice. The center will consult with gaming experts and a teen marketing specialist to harness current trends in dynamic digital and interactive programming in making these archives accessible to adolescents.
Scribe Video Center will work with independent filmmakers, scholars, and community leaders to create “Muslim Voices of Philadelphia,” an oral history and media project that explores the long history of Muslim communities in the region, some of which date back to the 1870s and span many different cultures and ethnicities from West Indian to Pakistani, Cambodian to Palestinian, African-American to Lebanese.
The National Constitution Center will develop a theatrical presentation and multimedia installation to complement the temporary exhibition, “Fighting for Democracy,” which will run at the center from fall 2011 through winter 2012. The exhibit traces the lives of seven Americans, all of varied backgrounds, before, during, and after World War II. Through its interactive performance, the National Constitution Center will bring the stories of these individuals to life in a way that will be both entertaining and meaningful to contemporary audiences.
This year, Heritage Philadelphia Program’s awards support both planning and interpretive endeavors that specifically address the needs and ongoing dialogues of local communities. Cliveden of the National Trust, a historic mansion in Germantown long owned by the Chew family, will develop interpretation and storytelling programs about the people formerly enslaved at the site, a National Historical Landmark. At the forefront will be the Chew Family Papers, documents that establish the Chews’ past status as the largest slave-owning family in Pennsylvania and shed new light on the state’s history of slave holding. This process is the first step of an organizational push to strengthen Cliveden’s relationship with Germantown’s African-American population.
According to Bill Adair, Director of the Heritage Philadelphia Program, “These projects demonstrate bold and creative attempts to engage the public with historical buildings and stories. They involve planning activities that are experiential, multidisciplinary, and audience-centered, and are at the leading edge of historic interpretation and preservation. Many, when realized, have the potential to become models for the field.”
Below is the complete list of 2010 grantees and full descriptions of each funded project.
“As a whole, these programs address issues of personal freedom, and religious and cultural tolerance—the very principles upon which Philadelphia was founded and that have been incorporated into American life and cultural values,” said Greg Rowe, Director of Culture Initiatives at The Pew Charitable Trusts. “What is especially exciting about each of them is that they bring these historical subjects to light in a way that is particularly relevant to audiences today.”
Proposals are evaluated by a panel of experts in the field. Their job is to select those projects that demonstrate innovation and excellence in public history practice, and which inspire engaging, audience-centered programming. The 2010 panel consisted of nationally recognized experts in the fields of museum management, preservation architecture, and historical interpretation. For a full list of panelist names and respective credentials, please see the list below or visit www.pcah.us/heritage.
Established in 1998, the Heritage Philadelphia Program has made a total of 107 grants through this competitive process, investing over $8.3 million in history projects in the five-county region of Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Heritage Philadelphia Program 2010 Grant Recipients:
Preservation Planning Grant of $48,100
Bartram’s Garden is America’s oldest existing botanical garden and was the home of eighteenth-century botanists and explorers John and William Bartram. The site includes the historic house and gardens, as well as other original structures, tidal wetlands, a river trail, meadows and parkland. The purpose of the project is to create a preservation plan for the entire site that will draw upon research, including conversations and focus groups with museum and landscape professionals, educators, environmental activists, and community members of the local southwest Philadelphia neighborhood.
Beth Sholom Synagogue Preservation Foundation
Preservation Planning Grant of $50,000*
Built between 1954 and 1959, Beth Sholom Synagogue is the only synagogue designed by the acclaimed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It is recognized by the American Institute of Architects and the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of Wright’s most important projects and is the only twentieth-century synagogue designated as a National Historic Landmark. This grant will be used to craft a plan to preserve the roof of the synagogue. A team of historic preservation experts will develop a model of the roof using Wright’s original design documents and test the model for affects of environmental stressors. Beth Sholom Synagogue is home to an active congregation. Its new visitor center opened in November 2009 and tells the story of the fruitful partnership between Frank Lloyd Wright and Rabbi Mortimer Cohen, as well as the history of the congregation.
Cliveden of the National Trust
Interpretation Planning Grant of $75,000
Cliveden, which was built in 1767, is a National Historic Landmark that served as the summer home of attorney Benjamin Chew and was the site of the 1777 Battle of Germantown. In recent years, scholarly research has established that the Chews were the largest slave-owning family in Pennsylvania. Grant funds will provide support to develop interpretation and storytelling programs about the people formerly enslaved at Cliveden. This is the first part of an organizational push to transform Cliveden’s interaction with its surrounding community, especially Germantown’s African-American population. To guide them, the staff will consult a multidisciplinary team that will include, among others, historians and representatives of African-American heritage coalitions, psychologists, and filmmakers that will document the process.
Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site
Preservation Implementation Grant of $175,000
Prior to the age of reform that swept the nation following the American Revolution, most eighteenth-century prisons were simply large paddocks that held men, women, and children who had committed a wide array of offenses, from petty crimes to capital murder, under often deplorable conditions and without any program for personal rehabilitation. Opened in 1829, Eastern State Penitentiary was based on a Quaker-inspired principle of spiritual reflection and penitence. The new prison design was a radical concept at the time that was eventually duplicated all over the world. This grant will provide support for the preservation of the Catholic chaplain’s office, a building separate from the cellblocks and built in the 1880s. The office houses 23 murals painted in 1955 by inmate Lester Smith, who converted to Catholicism while incarcerated. The Catholic chaplain’s office will contribute significantly to the interpretation of spiritual life at the prison and complement the penitentiary’s Alfred W. Fleisher Memorial Synagogue, which was restored in 2009.
First Person Arts
Interpretation Planning Grant of $75,000*
Founded in 2000, First Person Arts documents the real-life stories of everyday Americans and presents these tales to an equally broad and diverse audience. It addresses several questions—Whose history is worthy of being told? by whom? and how?—as contemporary audiences become more and more interested in the stories behind the objects they see hanging in a museum. This grant will provide support for the planning of the “People’s Museum,” a temporary museum comprised of material culture belonging to ordinary people, and the histories of those objects and the people who cherish them. The museum will determine how to solicit these stories and objects from everyday people, in order to form the collective basis of the museum. A team of documentary artists, historians, and museum professionals will work with First Person Arts to develop a prototype, interactive exhibition. This prototype will appear at the First Person Arts Festival, which brings together writers, musicians, and actors from across the country for five days of interactive presentations, in fall 2010.
Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Preservation Planning Grant of $63,200
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania is one of the oldest historical societies in the United States. It maintains over 21 million documents, and is the second largest collection of materials related to our nation’s founding, after the Library of Congress. With the merger of The Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies and its partnership with The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, the Historical Society is recognized as a major resource for the study of ethnic immigrant histories dating since the late nineteenth century. Given its vast collection, the Historical Society serves a variety of constituent groups, including scholars, educators, family and community historians, and other historical organizations. This grant will provide support for a plan to determine how the physical space of its building, constructed in the 1830s as a home for Philadelphia agriculturalist and politician John Hare Powel, can better serve those groups. The planning team will consider contemporary models used by other libraries, museums, and archival organizations, and will consult a team of experts to consider the integration of technology into its space, resulting in a more accessible and compelling environment for visitors.
Legacy Center, Drexel University College of Medicine
Interpretation Planning Grant of $75,000*
The Legacy Center at Drexel University College of Medicine, founded in 1850 as the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, is the world’s first medical school for women. With this grant, the center will develop “Seeking Women’s History: Serious Play for Young Adults,” a project that will use online gaming technology to connect teenagers in grades 6–12 to documents in its digital archives that tell the stories of strong female figures in the history of the medical field.
National Constitution Center
Interpretation Planning Grant of $75,000*
The National Constitution Center is the first-ever museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution. The grant will provide support for the National Constitution Center to work with theater artists, a historian, and community advisory groups in planning a theatrical and multimedia exhibition experience for middle and high-school students that will engage young audiences in discussions about equality and its changing definition, connecting the exhibit’s themes with contemporary issues, such as discrimination and civil liberties. The project will be based on Fighting for Democracy, a traveling exhibition from the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles that will be hosted at the National Constitution Center and which tells the stories of seven individuals from varied backgrounds and their personal experiences during World War II.
Scribe Video Center
Interpretation Planning Grant of $69,854*
Founded in 1982 by Pew Fellow and MacArthur Fellow Louis Massiah, Scribe Video Center provides artists access to the tools and training necessary to create and disseminate videos that document communities throughout greater Philadelphia. This grant provides support for the planning and development of “Muslim Voices of Philadelphia,” an oral history and media project that explores the history of the various Muslim communities in the greater Philadelphia region since the late eighteenth century and which challenge stereotypes of Muslims in the post-9/11 world.
* First-time grantee
2010 Heritage Philadelphia Program Peer-Review Panelists:
General Manager for Experience Delivery, Conner Prairie Interactive History Park (Fishers, Indiana)
Deputy Executive Director, Wing Luke Asian Museum (Seattle, Washington)
Principal, Ann Beha Architects (Boston, Massachusetts) specializing in museum, library, and academic clients
Film producer/writer/director and creator of Blueberry Hill Productions (Boston, Massachusetts)
Russell Lewis (Panel Chair)
Executive Vice President and Chief Historian, Chicago History Museum and former Editor and Director of Publications, Director of Curatorial Affairs, and Acting President of the Chicago History Museum
Theater director, dramaturge, and Professor of Theatre History and Performance Studies at Bowling Green State University (Bowling Green, Ohio)
Community Outreach Coordinator, Los Angeles Conservancy
Vice President for Education, Lower East Side Tenement Museum, New York City and former Vice President for Education at the Museum at Eldridge Street in New York City
The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage is dedicated to stimulating a vibrant cultural community in the five-county, Southeastern Pennsylvania region. Established in 2005, the Center houses seven funding Initiatives of The Pew Charitable Trusts, and through them supports area artists and arts and heritage organizations whose work is distinguished by excellence, imagination, and courage. Each year, the Center’s grants make possible more than 800 performances in dance, music, and theatre as well as history and visual arts exhibitions, and other public programs for audiences in Philadelphia and its surrounding counties. The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage is funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by The University of the Arts, Philadelphia. For more information, visit www.pcah.us.