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Frankenthaler Climate Initiative

    Helen Frankenthaler, Cool Summer, 1962, oil on canvas, 69 3/4 x 120 inches (177.2 x 304.8 cm). ©2021 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Photo credit: Rob McKeever, courtesy Gagosian.

    Congratulations to the 2023 grant recipients!


    The Frankenthaler Climate Initiative is an energy and climate grant program launched by the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation in partnership with RMI (Rocky Mountain Institute) and Environment & Culture Partners (ECP). ECP partners with RMI to guide the application and decision-making process for HFF’s distribution of $10M in grant funds to visual arts institutions conducting energy efficiency and clean energy projects.

    As climate change has emerged as a defining issue of our day, museums and cultural institutions can take a leadership position in demonstrating that climate action is within reach. The cost of energy is the second-largest component of museum budgets. Energy efficiency improvements are the best opportunity for museums to reduce emissions and save money.

    It is the first program of its kind in the U.S. for the visual arts and is the largest private national grant-making program to address climate change through cultural institutions. In response to the range, depth, and need of applications from the first call for proposals in 2021, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation awarded $5.1 million to 79 visual arts institutions. In 2022, the Foundation awarded $3 million to 48 institutions and in 2023 it gave $2.7 million to another 48 art museums and art schools. The program began as a three-year commitment by the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, but on August 10, 2023, the Foundation announced it will expand its commitment by increasing funding for the program from $10 million to $15 million through 2025. More information about the program can be found here.

    The Frankenthaler Climate Initiative funds energy efficiency and clean energy generation projects in the following categories:

    • Scoping grants help museums understand the climate and energy mitigation opportunities at their facilities.
    • Technical assistance grants support the specification and budgeting of an identified efficiency project to allow for procurement and financing.
    • Implementation grants provide partial seed funding for fully specified projects.

    Institutions of all sizes that have visual arts as a key part of their mission and programming are encouraged to apply. This includes collecting and non-collecting institutions as well as visual arts schools.