FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) has been awarded a federal grant totaling almost $245,000 to help ensure that the organization reflects the broad spectrum of demographics and philosophical differences of Kentucky’s residents in its collections and in how it shares the commonwealth’s story.
The three-year “Museums for America Grants: Museums Empowered” grant, given by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and matched by KHS to bring the total to $493,604, will fund a series of professional development experiences for the KHS staff designed to prioritize diversity and inclusion in all facets of their work. This includes how to think about, interpret and teach history. Eventually, the grant will enable KHS to assist other history groups in Kentucky by creating and implementing a program on interpreting difficult historical topics. Consultants will work with the organization to ensure it meets and maintains best practices and expertise.
“We were spurred to apply for this grant after we spent much of 2017 traveling the state to speak with Kentuckians as part of our ‘Kentucky at 225 Listening Tour.’ This included talking about racial representation, discrimination and a lack of inclusion in the commonwealth,” said Scott Alvey, KHS executive director. “What we learned from these conversations made us take stock of our own internal capacity, cultural competency and unconscious bias.”
Dr. Amanda Higgins, KHS’s community engagement administrator, will oversee the grant.
“Over its 180-plus years, KHS has made strides to diversify its collections, exhibits and programming, but this grant will help us develop strategies for becoming a truly inclusive institution,” she said. “It will also help us identify, implement and maintain engagement opportunities that reflect Kentucky’s increasingly diverse demographics.”
Museums for America (MFA) is IMLS’s largest discretionary grant program for museums, supporting projects and ongoing activities that build museums’ capacity to serve their communities. KHS was one of just 27 out of 110 applicants to earn an MFA grant this year.