Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions about NEH on the Road exhibition programming, curriculum, or requirements? We have answers.

What is NEH on the Road?

NEH on the Road is a special initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities designed to create wider national access to the ideas, themes, and stories explored in major NEH grant-funded exhibitions. The program is funded by the NEH and managed by Mid-America Arts Alliance, a non-profit regional arts organization located in Kansas City, MO. (M-AAA is also known nationally for its other traveling arts exhibition program, ExhibitsUSA.) NEH on the Road exhibitions are adaptations of larger projects vetted and approved by the NEH. Each exhibition is designed to fit within 2,000 square feet and features approximately 40 actual objects as well as panels, banners, and other supporting materials. NEH on the Road is envisioned as an opportunity for community organizations to create new connections to the humanities for their audiences. One of the requirements of participating in the program is that host venues will offer at least one humanities program in association with their exhibition hosting period.

Can I propose an exhibition idea for NEH on the Road?

No. The NEH on the Road program is based on exhibitions that have already gone through the review and approval process of NEH’s major grants programs. NEH staff nominate projects out of their grant applicants for inclusion in NEH on the Road, and the NEH makes the final decision about which exhibitions are added to the roster. Of course, we’re always interested to hear what subjects are of interest to our audience, and we welcome your thoughts. But the actual projects that become NEH on the Road exhibitions must first go through NEH’s regular grant process.

Why does NEH on the Road require an application and a program plan?

NEH on the Road includes both the exhibition itself and programming ideas. This is designed to meet NEH’s goal to foster deeper humanities experiences for communities across the United States. Because the program involves a subsidized rental fee, interested venues must complete and turn in an application.

Can I apply for more than one exhibition?

You can—each application is judged on its own merits. However, if you are new to the program, we highly recommend that you concentrate on one exhibition and turn in the best possible application. Preference is given to new venues and to new places that the program has yet to serve. For venues that book more than one exhibition, the NEH expects that subsequent applications will show an increase in the strength and depth of programming connected with that exhibition. Doing a good job with your first exhibition will increase your chances for being accepted again for future NEH on the Road bookings.

Are there actual objects in NEH on the Road exhibitions, or are they just panel shows?

Each exhibition contains original objects. While the exact content varies, all NEH on the Road exhibitions seek to engage audiences with three-dimensional objects as well as other text and interactive materials. Most NEH exhibitions feature an average of 35–45 objects, including a combination of original items and some replicas or representative examples.

How do I handle the shipping for an NEH on the Road exhibition?

Now as part of the rental fee, the program covers shipping of the exhibition from your facility to the next host site on the tour. The registrars on staff at Mid-America Arts Alliance will take care of the actual shipping arrangements. They work with you and the next venue to ensure that everyone knows the details of the schedule and that you are ready for the send off. M-AAA will cover shipping costs as part of its agreement with the NEH. If you have special concerns or needs about shipping, let us know as soon as possible when you submit your application or confirm the booking.

What is the relationship between NEH on the Road and ExhibitsUSA?

They are separate traveling exhibition programs of the Arts and Humanities Programming division of Mid-America Arts Alliance. ExhibitsUSA began in 1988 and today tours visual arts and history exhibitions nationwide. M-AAA’s expertise with traveling shows to small and mid-size venues gained through ExhibitsUSA led to the cooperative agreement with the NEH to operate NEH on the Road. The two programs share staff and space at M-AAA’s headquarters in Kansas City, MO.

Do you have lesson plans for teachers visiting the exhibitions with student groups?

Yes. Each exhibition Programming Guide includes a selection of lesson plans and other types of museum activities. Most host sites make these resources available to teachers in advance of their exhibition visit.

Do your lesson plans meet curriculum standards?

Because our exhibitions travel nationwide, we tie our lesson plans to national curriculum standards whenever possible. Some of our earlier lesson plans are in the process of being updated so that they include national standards. National standards may easily translate to your state’s standards. Please look at The National Council for the Social Studies outline of standards for an overview of the national standards we consider. Please note that all of our lesson plans also list objectives for student learning.

How can I enhance the educational value of our visit?

The best way to enhance the educational value of your visit is to make use of the resources on this website. View the online Programming Guide for lesson plans, annotated bibliographies and background information. Download the Family Gallery Guide and play our online trivia games for post-visit activities. Finally, and perhaps most simply, talk about the exhibit with others. Discuss what you liked best and what made the most impact on you. What did you learn that you did not know before? What else would you like to learn? Check out other ideas in our Programming Guide for ways to translate what you learned into a picture, a craft, a song, or a poem. Visit your local public library and look for other books or multimedia materials related to the subjects explored in the exhibition.

How long does it take to get an application approved?

The actual amount of time can vary, but it takes at least a week. When you turn in your application and facility report, we review both documents. Our registrar approves the facility report. The main application and program plan are sent to our Humanities Curator and Educator for review. If questions come up about either document, we will get back to you for more information or clarification. This can slow the process down. The more complete your application is when it is turned in, the quicker it takes for it to be approved.

Can for-profit venues host an exhibition?

No. Because NEH on the Road is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, only non-profit institutions are eligible to apply for the exhibitions and programming grants. For-profit institutions are welcome to help their non-profit neighbors successfully create community connections for one of these projects, but they cannot apply to be a host site.

Why do I have to fill out a final evaluation?

Because NEH on the Road involves subsidies and a programming grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, you need to submit a final evaluation for the project just as you would for any other NEH program.

What other materials travel with the exhibitions?

When you book an NEH on the Road offering, in addition to the actual exhibition you also receive a wealth of programming and educational support materials. Each exhibition comes with a selection of books and materials suitable for both children and adults. A selection of hands-on puzzles, flipbooks, and other games are also included. As an added benefit, exhibitions are also accompanied by a Programming Guide—an invaluable resource that includes docent notes, bibliographies, web links, programming suggestions and contacts, and ideas for supplemental exhibition topics. Host sites also receive thorough installation instructions and a Registrar’s Manual that will guide them through the entire exhibition experience. The newer exhibitions also each come with a custom-designed brochure and a poster.