Tag Archives: grants

Knight Foundation makes a digital heritage dream possible

I’ve worked the past 13 years as an advocate for strategic digital initiatives at cultural institutions. Much of that time has been spent building  buy-in,  seeking resources, and working to keep the tech functioning. Oh yes … and building in time to see “what’s next,” then repeating the process. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to take a moment in gratitude when an idea takes root.  Thanks to Knight Foundation, this is one of those moments.

This past week, Knight awarded a $100,000 Museums and Technology grant to Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, where I am contracted as digital strategist. The grant will enhance the visitor experience by using 3D documentation modeling and printing to allow visitors to explore spaces of this National Historic Landmark that are not accessible to the public. Those spaces include Vizcaya’s Barge (seen above), a partly submerged breakwater decorated with mythical sculptures by Alexander Calder, and the swimming pool grotto  which has a ceiling depicting an elaborate undersea scene designed by Robert Winthrop Chanler.

Vizcaya's Chanler Ceiling 3D Documentation Knight Foundation Grant
Chanler ceiling at Vizcaya

The project combines many of the interests I and many of my Vizcaya colleagues share–historic preservation/conservation, technology, and helping audiences internalize the interpretation of heritage resources. That extends to Vizcaya’s leadership team, which has been incredibly supportive of this holistic approach to 3D documentation.

We’ve got a very talented partner team on the project as well. The University of Florida Historic Preservation Program captures our 3D documentation, including both photogrammetry and laser scanning. Our technology partner will unlock ways to adapt UF’s point clouds into kiosk-based and virtual reality products. Additionally, Florida International University’s Miami Beach Urban Studios will be strategizing the development of 3D prints based UF’s laser scanning/photogrammetry.

It’s an exciting time to work in this field. Five years ago, the tech was not mature enough to attempt this concept. Now, we’re confident that we’ll create a model that can other cultural sites can replicate. We’ll be documenting our progress in a GitHub site. While this concept was always an intention, the Knight Foundation’s entry into the museums and technology space advances our efforts by years.

If you’re interested in learning more about 3D documentation, here is a primer to get you started.

Cathy Byrd of Fresh Art International recently interviewed my colleagues about digital initiatives at Vizcaya. Hear what they had to say at the SoundCloud embed below:


Apply online for preservation technology grants through Oct.15

The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training is looking to fund innovative projects that advance the application of science and technology in historic preservation.

The PTT Grants program funds up to $25,000 for projects that develop new technologies or adapt existing technologies to preserve cultural resources.

NCPTT staff are accepting optional pre-proposal abstracts through the Center’s website until Oct. 1. Staff will reply to these abstracts with feedback. Full grant applications may be submitted online until Oct. 15.

Projects may include, but are not limited to:

  • Laboratory or field research that explores or assesses novel or adaptive methods
  • Training activities, including workshops, and course or curriculum development that promote the use of new or adaptive technologies
  • Documentation using new methods
  • Manuscript or website development that disseminates innovative preservation technologies
  • Meetings that convene experts to discuss the use of technologies to address preservation problems.
  • NCPTT does not fund “bricks and mortar” projects or straight-forward documentation projects using well-established methods.

Grants are awarded competitively with a maximum award of $25,000 (including indirect costs). All grants require a one-to-one match of cash or in-kind services. Grants are funded by annual federal appropriation and are subject to availability of funds.

NCPTT funds projects within several overlapping disciplinary areas. These include:

  • archaeology
  • collections management
  • architecture
  • engineering
  • historic landscapes
  • materials research

Although any proposal will be considered that advances NCPTT’s mission, NCPTT will give preference to proposals that advance technologies or methods to:

  • conserve cultural resources of the “recent past”
  • monitor and evaluate preservation treatments
  • investigate minimally invasive techniques to  inventory and assess cultural resources
  • protect cultural resources against natural and human threats
  • preserve cemeteries and places of worship, and safeguard resources from effects of pollution and climate

The following organizations are eligible to submit proposals:

  • U.S. universities and colleges,
  • U.S. non-profit organizations: Non-academic museums, research laboratories, professional societies and similar organizations in the U.S. that are directly associated with educational or research activity
  • Government agencies in the U.S.: National Park Service and other federal, state, territorial and local government agencies, as well as Hawaiian Natives, Native American and Alaska Native tribes and their Tribal Historic Preservation Offices. Other organizations can participate only as contractors to eligible U.S. partners. Grants funds support only portions of projects that are undertaken or managed directly by U.S. partners. Grant funds can be used in support of projects outside of the U.S., provided the principal organization conducting the work is an eligible U.S. institution and the project’s results address a national preservation need.

Review Criteria

Reviewers evaluate each project proposal by the following criteria. The successful proposed project should thoroughly:

  • Address an identifiable national need in preservation technology
  • Present innovate technologies
  • Demonstrate a technically sound methodology
  • Have a principal investigator well qualified to conduct the proposed work
  • Disseminate project results effectively
  • Be cost effective given the scope of work and the audience
  • Provide a one-to-one match of funding with cash or in-kind services
  • Result in tangible grant products that disseminate information beyond traditional ways (e.g. online web based training, webinars, podcasts, videos, DVDs, electronic publishing, etc.).

NCPTT reviews proposals for disciplinary, geographical and institutional distribution. Additionally, a National Park Service grants administrator reviews them for financial and policy matters. Special consideration will be given to proposals that leverage resources through public and private partnerships.

The Grant Application Process

Applicants desiring feedback may submit an optional pre-proposal anytime up to October 1, 2008. The preproposal may not exceed one page in length, and it should be an informal abstract of your project. Provide a brief description that highlights the innovative nature of the project, how it applies to preservation technology, the national need, the time frame, and approximate overall cost.

NCPTT staff will provide timely feedback on the degree of fit between your idea and NCPTT’s mission.
Applicants must submit a PTT Grant application between September 1, 2008 and October 15, 2008. The applicant will provide details on the following:

  • Abstract (100 words)
  • Description of innovation (100 words)
  • Project narrative, which should include a discussion of the technical soundness of the methods (1000 words)
  • A bibliography of references cited in the narrative
  • Statement about how the project addresses an identifiable national need in preservation technology (250 words)
  • A list of project tasks and their schedule (500 words) a dissemination plan (250 words)
  • A description of the deliverables (500 words)
  • Summary of the expertise and project-related experience of the principal investigator (500 words)
  • Summary of the expertise and project-related experience of the research team (1000 words)
  • An itemized budget listing the funds requested from NCPTT, as well as the funds provided in cash and in-kind donation from other parties. Applicants will receive notification of their status in early December 2008.

Successful projects can begin in March 1, 2009, pending availability of funding.