Cultural Heritage Grants

Preserving Cultural Heritage

Recognizing that irreplaceable cultural heritage is being lost at an alarming rate around the world, the Whiting Foundation has committed to joining the fight to save the treasures of human civilization from threats both man-made and natural. We are particularly inspired by the dedicated local stewards of heritage whose practical efforts on the ground are the sine qua non of preserving our shared inheritance now and in the future. We believe the work of these passionate caretakers to save the fruits of the human endeavor is urgent, and that it is imperative that the past be handed on to the future with as little loss as we can manage.

Please note that applications for this program are by invitation only.

Our grants in this area support local stewards in their work to preserve, document, and disseminate the timeless cultural heritage that is under threat in less-well-resourced countries around the world: whereas most of our other programs focus on the United States, this one is exclusively international. Building on Whiting's animating committment to the written word as a vessel for the transmission of ideas, our support for cultural heritage emphasizes documentary heritage, such as manuscripts and inscriptions. Explore some of our heritage grants below.

First Aid grants for documentary heritage worldwide

Partnership with Cultural Emergency Response for local regrants



Making use of the extensive international network of the cultural heritage experts of Cultural Emergency Response, this co-funded initiative provides grants directly to collections in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean to safeguard documentary heritage that is acutely threatened by recent conflict or other disaster, whether natural or man-made.

Documenting museum collections in Iraq

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in support of local professionals



In response to urgent requests from colleagues at museums in Iraq, The Met designed a portable kit containing all of the camera and lighting equipment, electronics, software, and power required for high-quality photography of heritage objects. They have trained and equipped a dozen local professionals, who are now documenting and publishing their holdings. The rich catalogs they create will help protect against loss from looting and allow the museums to share their collections widely.

Preserving documents in Latin and South America

UCLA Library, in support of local professionals


The UCLA Library's Modern Endangered Archives Program (MEAP) program was launched in 2018 with support from the Arcadia Fund to preserve at-risk cultural material around the world, with an emphasis on post-industrial documentary heritage, through a call-for-applications regranting model. Whiting's supplementary grant for the inaugural 2018-19 cycle allowed MEAP to fund additional applications for preservation work in Latin and South America. 

Digitizing manuscript collections in western Syria

HMML, in support of Syrian professionals



The Antiochian (Greek) Orthodox Church in Syria requested the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library’s assistance in preserving more than a thousand secular and religious manuscripts housed in ecclesiastical collections in Damascus, Hama, and Latakia, and written in Greek, Syriac, and Arabic. This project reactivated HMML’s work in Syria, where they partnered with local organizations to provide training and equipment to digitize manuscripts from 2003 to 2012, when conflict in the country forced a suspension of the work.

Digitizing manuscript collections at Mosul University

ASOR-CHI, in support of Moslawi cultural institutions



The occupation of Mosul and northern Iraq by ISIS took a profound toll on the region’s citizens and infrastructure, including the remarkable intellectual record of this important cultural capital. As part of the recovery effort, ASOR-CHI collaborated with the Digital Center for Eastern Manuscripts and the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library to train and equip Iraqi heritage professionals to digitize a wide range of significant manuscripts, historical records, photographs, newspapers, and archaeological documents..

Prototyping a Digital Library of the Middle East

CLIR, Antiquities Coalition, Qatar National Library, and partners

Launched January 2018


The DLME is an ambitious project to connect the digital repositories of Middle Eastern cultural heritage currently siloed around the globe by creating a central portal empowering anyone with an internet connection to easily search and discover these collections. The guiding principle of the project is service to people in the region: to help reveal, share, and protect cultural materials and the living and historical cultures they represent. An initial technical proof-of-concept launched publicly on January 31, 2018.

Illuminating Colombian documentary heritage

RIT and UR, with the National Library of Colombia


Leading scientists at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester's Lazarus Project have partnered with Colombia's National Library and a host of other documentary collections in the country to train and equip local stewards to deploy a new low-cost multispectral imaging system - a noninvasive technology that can reveal erased and eroded text - on some of Colombia's most significant manuscripts and documents.