Projects to build a research center at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, to develop digital tours of an exhibition highlighting Jewish founders of the film industry at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, and to add touch-screen kiosks to the National Comedy Center in Lucille Ball’s hometown of Jamestown, N.Y., are among 204 beneficiaries of new grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities announced on Tuesday.
The grants, which total $28.1 million and are the first round awarded this year, will support projects at museums, libraries, universities and historic sites in 39 states and Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Among the projects is the creation of an immersive online resource by the Jane Austen Summer Program in Chapel Hill, N.C., which will allow people to explore Austen’s writings, personal artifacts and historical documents within a recreated interior of her home. Another, at Temple University in Philadelphia, will develop an online tool to transcribe early polyphonic music, which consists of multiple independent melodies that are played or sung at the same time, in standard musical notation. Funding will also go toward the development of a virtual reality model of a Viking Age longship by undergraduate researchers at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa.
Shelly C. Lowe, the endowment’s chairwoman, said in a statement that the projects, many of which use digital tools and technologies to make ancient cultures and practices accessible to a modern audience, “speak to the wealth of humanities ideas and deep engagement of humanities practitioners across our country.”
In New York, 30 projects at the state’s cultural organizations will receive $5 million in grants, including a $500,000 award to support the rehabilitation of the geothermal heating and cooling system at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Funding will also go toward research for a book exploring how the record collections and home-D.J. practices of Black and Latina women in the Bronx in the 1970s shaped the birth and development of hip-hop, as well as one about the life of Cornell Capa and the International Center of Photography, which he founded in 1974.
Elsewhere, a grant will support a faculty and student project at Georgia College to collect oral histories related to the life and works of Flannery O’Connor, the novelist and short-story writer whose work focused on the American South. Another award will allow researchers at the University of Kentucky to explore the underrepresentation of buildings and sites associated with minority racial and ethnic groups on the National Register of Historic Places.
The grants will also support dozens of new books on topics such as Black leisure and tourism in the Jim Crow era; the branding practices of mothers who are influencers on digital media in South Korea; and Hollywood’s “dance-ins,” the uncredited dancers who rehearsed a star’s choreography before filming during the Golden Age of the Hollywood musical from the 1940s to the 1960s.