Major Museum Center grant to help tell story of region’s indigenous peoples

The Cincinnati Museum Center just received nearly $250,000 in funding to create an exhibit dedicated to the history of the indigenous people in Southwest Ohio. The new display is part of CMC’s multiyear guest experience refresh.

The grant came from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The Washington, D.C. based agency uses grantmaking, research and policy development to support the efforts of museums, libraries and educational organizations across the country.

CMC was one of 122 projects from around the United States to receive funding from the IMLS’s Museums for America program.

Museums for America is IMLS’s largest competitive grant program. The $249,685 grant received by CMC is just shy of the program’s $250,000 funding cap.

Cincinnati Nature Center in Milford, Ohio, is the only other regional institution to receive funding this cycle – just over $100,000.

CMC plans to use its funding to create a permanent exhibit focused on the history of human habitation in Greater Cincinnati. It will span the earliest indigenous groups to the tribal nations who still call the central Ohio Valley home.

The project looks to build on more than a decade of archaeological excavation and research in the Little Miami River Valley by CMC researchers. That includes developing close relationships with 17 federally recognized Tribal Nations and involvement in Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act work.

Elizabeth Pierce, president and CEO of CMC, called the grant vital to helping develop and deliver on a “transformative museum exhibit that will give voice to and bring forward the incredible history of our region’s indigenous people.”

“To us, this (grant) is a statement of our value and our unique role as a conduit for our region’s cultural heritage,” she added. “We’re grateful for the generosity of the Institute for Museum and Library Services.”

CMC will open its yet-to-be-named exhibit in 2026 or 2027. When completed, it will be the latest new attraction as part of the museum’s ongoing Champion More Curiosity campaign.

Since 2018, CMC has opened 15 new or reimagined exhibits and experiences. The “Ancient Worlds Hiding in Plain Sight” gallery opens in September.