Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative Awards Over $1 Million for Outstanding Visual Arts Exhibitions

Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative Awards Over $1 Million for Outstanding Visual Arts Exhibitions

The Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative (PEI) announces grants totaling $1,166,231—the largest amount awarded in the program's 11-year history—to eight visual arts organizations and two teams of independent curators for outstanding visual arts exhibitions and exhibitions planning.

This year's PEI exhibition grant recipients are:

  • The Design Center at Philadelphia University
    $200,000 for Lace In Translation
  • Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania
     $250,000 for Dirt on Delight: impulses that form clay
  • Megawords (Anthony Smyrski and Dan Murphy)
     $20,000 for Megawords Storefront 
  • The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
     $128, 796 for Peter Saul: A Retrospective
  • Philadelphia Mural Arts Program
    $237,535 for LOVE LETTER
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art 
    $250,000 for James Castle: A Retrospective

This year's PEI planning grant recipients are:

  • Arcadia University
     $25,000 for planning a project with Tacita Dean
  • The Clay Studio
    $25,000 for planning to build a curatorial team and a series of exhibitions
  • Rosenbach Museum & Library
    $24,900 for planning programming of newly-created exhibition spaces 
  • Screening (Nadia Hironaka and Matt Suib)
    $5,000 for planning a new project with filmmaker Pat O'Neill

“For the first time, the Exhibitions Initiative opened up its process this year to encourage independent curators to apply without institutional sponsorship, and we are delighted to award two grants in this category,” notes PEI Director Paula Marincola. “This year's awards will result  in a full spectrum of dynamic exhibitions, including a public art project along the Market Street El, the first comprehensive museum retrospectives for a major self-taught American artist and an under-valued American painter, contemporary design and craft exhibitions, and a month-long series of multi-disciplinary activities sited in a local storefront. We are also very gratified to have three first-time award recipients: Megawords, Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, and Screening.”

For full descriptions of each program, please see the attached list or visit

PEI grants are awarded annually on a competitive basis, and recipients are selected by a distinguished national panel. This year's panel included:

• Jeremy Strick, Director, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, (Panel Chair)
• Rashida Bumbray, Assistant Curator, The Kitchen, NYC
• Jason T. Busch, Curator of Decorative Arts, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA
• Siri Engberg, Curator, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN
• Laura Hoptman, Kraus Family Senior Curator, New Museum of Contemporary Art, NYC
• Bill Horrigan, Director of Media Arts, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH
• Nato Thompson, Curator and Producer, Creative Time, NYC

The Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative (PEI) is located at the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by the University of the Arts.  PEI supports visual arts exhibitions of high artistic caliber and cultural significance. Grants of up to $250,000 for exhibition implementation and up to $25,000 for exhibition planning are awarded annually to projects that fit within the guidelines, goals and priorities of PEI.  Support to the visual arts community is provided through these grants as well as through professional development activities designed to inspire excellent and innovative projects, and to foster greater organizational artistic capacity. Since it was established in 1997, the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative has funded 83 projects, investing $8.6 million in exhibitions in the five-county area. This commitment makes PEI unique in the country in both focus and ongoing level of philanthropic support, and through its grants, the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative has brought extraordinary visual arts experiences to literally hundreds of thousands of viewers in our region and beyond.

Opened in November 2005, the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage (PCAH) houses seven existing initiatives of The Pew Charitable Trusts. These programs are dedicated to assisting cultural organizations in the five-county Southeastern Pennsylvania region in developing high-quality public programs and effective management practices. PCAH is the home of Dance Advance, Heritage Philadelphia Program, Pew Fellowships in the Arts, Philadelphia Cultural Management Initiative, Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative, Philadelphia Music Project, and Philadelphia Theatre Initiative. The Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage is supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by The University of the Arts. For more information, visit