The Chattanooga History Center announced Thursday that it has earned the coveted National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant that will help support the Center’s capital campaign for building a new 19,500-square-foot social history museum in the Ross's Landing Park and Plaza (Aquarium Plaza). The $400,000 grant awarded to the Chattanooga History Center is the largest of three NEH grants given in the state of Tennessee and the fifth largest NEH grant awarded in the country this year.

“NEH funding is the most sought after and most competitive grant in the nation so this grant is comparable to winning the Super Bowl or World Series for a museum,” said Dr. Daryl Black, executive director for the Chattanooga History Center. “Approximately 10 percent of the institutions that seek support from the NEH in any given review period are successful. The process is very rigorous, and the standards that the Chattanooga History Center met to secure this prestigious grant were extremely high.”

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Each year, the NEH works with the nation’s most distinguished historians and museum professionals to conduct an extensive peer review of several thousand proposals. The NEH uses this comprehensive vetting process to identify the finest projects in the country that support research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of humanities. 

“The National Endowment for the Humanities is proud to support the Chattanooga History Center and other exceptional research, educational, and public programs in the humanities,” said Carole Watson, acting chairman for the National Endowment for the Humanities.

With this support, the Center’s capital campaign has now surpassed $10 million, and officials with the Chattanooga History Center expect to reach its capital campaign goal of $10.5 million in the coming months as plans are now underway to finish the social history museum and officially open its doors in early 2015.

“The Chattanooga History Center and its supporters take great pride in receiving this grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities,” said Cannon and Rick Montague, co-chairs of the capital campaign for the Chattanooga History Center. “The NEH grant is the strongest possible endorsement of the Chattanooga History Center and speaks volumes about the unique and creative approach that the Center is using to help connect visitors to Chattanooga's past.”

The Chattanooga History Center continues to work with internationally renowned Ralph Appelbaum Associates to complete the final design and build out for the new social history museum. In the past, designers with Ralph Appelbaum Associates have created some of the nation's finest, award-winning museums, including the U.S. Holocaust Museum, The Country Music Hall of Fame, The NASCAR Museum, The National World War I Museum and the Newseum. 

“I want to thank everyone involved in this process – our staff, our board members and fundraising team, and our community partners.  All of them should be very proud of what they have made possible.  I look forward to sharing more great news about the Chattanooga History Center in the coming months as we move closer to officially opening our doors in early 2015,” said Dr. Black.