NEA Spotlight: Beyond Bricks and Mortar

9rockwell.jpg

The artist in his studio, leans over a small table, working with a long, slender brush. Sketches can be seen in all around.

Norman Rockwell works on The Art Critic, 1955. Photo: Bill Scoville, courtesy of Norman Rockwell Museum.

What do Alabama's Bethel Baptist Church, the AIDS Memorial Quilt, the Monterey Jazz Festival Audio Collection, and two fine art murals from Cincinnati's Terrace Plaza Hotel all have in common? Each of these uniquely American treasures will receive crucial conservation work thanks to Save America's Treasures (SAT), an innovative partnership among five federal entities: the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH), the National Park Service (NPS), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). This collaborative program funds the preservation and conservation of the nation's irreplaceable cultural treasures including historic properties and sites, artifacts, artistic works, and documents.

In the announcement of the 2005 grantees, Mrs. Laura Bush, honorary chair of PCAH, said, "Historic preservation and conservation has such an important place in America. The devastation in the Gulf region is a stark reminder of the significant fragility of buildings, sites, and artifacts that define our neighborhoods and the character of our country."

Since its inception in 1999, the SAT program has awarded a total of $202 million to more than 650 grantees. The two-pronged grant process awards support through congressional earmarks of historic preservation funds as well as through a competitive grants process. The nation's three federal cultural agencies solicit and review applications, forwarding their best proposals to an expert panel.

This year the Arts Endowment awarded 10 grants, distributing a total of $1,788,116. Selected projects ranged from conserving the archives of master choreographer Merce Cunningham to restoring Thomas Sully's iconic 1817 painting, The Passage of the Delaware. The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, received a grant to support the preservation of acetate negatives of photography sessions directed by all- American illustrator and painter Norman Rockwell. Thanks to the SAT program, the nation's history will continue to be told in all its many forms. For a list of the grantees, please visit www.arts.gov.