(LENOX, Mass.) — The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home has been awarded a $300,000 grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The grant will fund humanities-related programs and staff positions through December 2020. The award allows The Mount to expand its roster of online literary conversations and move forward with reopening as a historic house museum, currently scheduled for mid-July, in compliance with anticipated Covid-19 safety guidelines.
The funding is part of the NEH’s $40.3 million CARES Act economic stabilization program, which offered emergency relief grants up to $300,000 to support humanities organizations with a focus on retaining and hiring staff. The NEH received more than 2,300 eligible applications from cultural organizations across the country requesting more than $370 million in funding. Only 14 percent of the applicants were funded, and The Mount was one of the relative few to receive the maximum award. The 317 grants approved will allow cultural organizations to retain staff to preserve and curate humanities collections, advance humanities research, and maintain buildings and core operations.
“To say I am moved by this affirmation of the work we are doing is an understatement,” said Susan Wissler, executive director of The Mount. “The funding has come at a critical time as we are facing significant lost revenue for this season. The NEH award will ensure that we can continue to deliver quality humanities experiences both virtually and on site, once we are allowed to reopen. It is a hand reaching out just when we need it.”
The Mount has already begun its transition to online content and will continue to expand its offerings. Scheduled programs include a moderated series with leading historians and biographers, interviews with women authors of fiction, discussions with writers whose work examines the contemporary American experience from underrepresented perspectives, explorations of Edith Wharton’s library, and behind-the-scenes views of the estate. In addition, The Mount has moved the majority of its centennial celebration of Wharton’s The Age of Innocence online, including the launch of its first digital exhibit, Writing The Age of Innocence.
The funding will also support The Mount’s reopening plans as it prepares for limited capacity on-site visits. Plans include increased signage, a self-guide audio tour, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols, and Covid-19 training for the staff. The Mount anticipates opening its outdoor Terrace Café, Main House, and Bookstore by mid-July, in accordance with the yet-to-be issued Massachusetts guidelines for the Phase III reopening. The gardens, grounds, and trails remain open to the public daily from dawn to dusk. Visit EdithWharton.org for the latest information regarding The Mount’s reopening plans and Calendar of Events.
The National Endowment for the Humanities
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at neh.gov.
The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home
The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Home is a National Historic Landmark and cultural center that celebrates the intellectual, artistic, and humanitarian legacy of Edith Wharton (1862-1937), one of America’s greatest authors. Wharton wrote over 40 books in 40 years, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Age of Innocence, which celebrates its centennial this year.
The Mount presents Wharton’s life and achievements through tours of her house and gardens, along with thematic tours of her library, a tour from the point-of-view of her servants, and a popular ghost tour. The Mount is the literary hub of the Berkshires and hosts lectures by national authors and scholars, panels, and an annual writers-in-residency. In response to COVID-19, The Mount has expanded its virtual offerings to include live literary programs, tours of the estate, and explorations of Wharton’s library.
The Mount is a partner of the Lenox Cultural District, one of five designated districts in Berkshire County. The Mount is located at 2 Plunkett Street in Lenox, Mass. For more information, visit EdithWharton.org.