- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 15, 2003

The National Endowment for the Humanities will be doling out $500,000 in grants to restore Iraq’s cultural heritage, the federal agency announced yesterday.

Beginning Aug. 1, the agency will receive proposals for projects that can last for up to two years. Known as “Recovering Iraq’s Past,” the initiative is geared toward shoring up collections in Iraq’s archives, libraries and museums. Projects may start as soon as Jan. 1.

NEH Chairman Bruce Cole said the initiative is a follow-up on President Bush’s promise this spring to use American funds to help Iraqis rebuild their country.

“This NEH initiative offers the Iraqi people the skills and knowledge of America’s premiere humanities institutions and scholars,” he said. “Working together, they can restore and revitalize Iraq’s rich history and establish a solid foundation for valuable humanities scholarship, education and public programming for generations to come.”

The kinds of projects the NEH has in mind for Iraq include:

• The stabilization, conservation or preservation of cultural collections.

• Preparation of inventories or catalogs and the arrangement and description or cataloging of collections.

• The digitization of records or objects relating to Iraq’s cultural heritage located in Iraqi or U.S. institutions.

• Historical-preservation surveys or assessments of humanities resources, historic and archaeological sites.

• Historical-preservation education and training for Iraqi citizens

Grant money, which will be taken out of program funds in the 2003 or 2004 budgets, will be given in amounts ranging from $30,000 to $100,000. The guidelines, which are detailed at www.neh.gov, say grants are contingent on program directors getting necessary visa and passport clearances to enter Iraq.

Nonprofit organizations, state and local government agencies, libraries, universities and other institutions involving some humanities expertise and scholarship are eligible for these grants. Individuals and for-profit groups cannot apply.

Since 1980, the NEH has given $12.6 million for a range of fellowships and research grants connected to the history and archeology of Iraq.

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