The Bessie Smith Cultural Center is a recipient of a $61,895 grant for Capital Maintenance and Improvement from the State of Tennessee as administered through the Tennessee State Museum. The grant award will be used for expansion and updates to the educational department work area as well as updates to the museum’s archival storage department.
The Tennessee General Assembly made available $5 million in funding from the 2023-2024 Appropriations Act, “for the sole purpose of providing grants to museums with a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization or affiliated with a governmental entity for capital maintenance and improvements.”
It was a highly competitive process, officials said.
In total, the Tennessee State Museum received 170 applications, totaling $12.5M in funding requests for the $5M appropriation. The Museum made full or partial awards to 108 museums across the state, representing 58 counties.
“The Tennessee State Museum serves the State of Tennessee through history, art and culture,” said Ashley Howell, Tennessee State Museum executive director. “There is incredible work being done throughout the state by our strong network of Tennessee museums and historic homes. This grant is an extension of how we can further support their efforts and the preservation of local and state history. We thank the Tennessee General Assembly for their support for Tennessee Museums.”
Paula Wilkes, president of the Bessie Smith Cultural Center said, “This funding will allow us to create a dedicated workspace for our educational department as the organization will be adding an Education Specialist in the very near future. It will also allow us the necessary funding to renovate and update our archival storage department that houses over 15,000 artifacts in the museum collection that are currently being digitized and catalogued.”
The Capital Improvement and Maintenance grant had a minimum request amount of $5,000 and a maximum request amount of $100,000. All projects must be completed by June 30, 2024.
The Bessie Smith Cultural Center Museum will be closed Dec. 5-8 for construction associated with the grant funding. They will reopen on Tuesday, Dec. 12.