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COVID-19 Pandemic Resources for Museums, Historical Societies, and Cultural Institutions

COVID-19 Pandemic Resources for History Organizations | Wisconsin Historical Society

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting our work and personal lives in unprecedented ways. Here is a list of resources compiled from various organizations and partners. We look forward to the time when museums, historic sites, and archives are able to reopen and welcome visitors. Be safe and be well!

Wisconsin Historical Society

The Wisconsin Historical Society is actively documenting the impact of COVID-19 on Wisconsin and the world. Our tradition of balancing the collection of artifacts and material with personal experiences is a critical part of this process. To learn more about the COVID-19 Journal Project and how you can participate, click here.

For history groups organizing collecting initiatives locally, we hope to collaborate in the future on a digital project that brings together the Society's COVID-19 Journal Project with materials collected by other historical institutions to tell an even larger story. Learn more here.

From March 31 through April 15, 2020, the Wisconsin Historical Society and Wisconsin Federation of Museums partnered to survey their affiliates and members about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Wisconsin's museums, historical societies, and collecting organizations. Aggregated and summarized responses to the COVID-19 Local History Impact Survey may be found in the final report, linked here. For more information on the survey, please contact Janet Seymour at the Wisconsin Historical Society at or Greg Vadney at the Wisconsin Federation of Museums at

In case you missed it, on June 29, the Local History Outreach Team hosted a webinar on "Reopening Wisconsin Museums and Historic Sites." You can access a recording of the webinar here.

UPDATED! Financial Impact Resources
Disaster Loans

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering disaster loans to small businesses with a rate of interest of 3.75% and non-profits a rate of interest of 2.75% with long-term repayment options, up to a maximum of 30 years.

The SBA also provides information on the Paycheck Protection Program. The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. Note: The Small Business Administration will resume accepting nonprofit PPP loan applications on Monday, April 27, at 10:30 am EDT from approved lenders on behalf of any eligible borrower.

Visit the National Countil of Nonprofits to learn about the types of loans available to non-profits thorugh CARES Act funding.

Visit Independent Sector for information on how to apply for nonprofit relief funds.

Wisconsin Humanities Council

The Wisconsin Humanities Council (WHC) will be providing rapid-response funding to non-profit humanities and cultural organizations that are facing financial hardship resulting from COVID-19. These grants are funded by the federal CARES Act via the National Endowment for the Humanities.

New! Guidelines and the application form are now available at: The second round of CARES grant funding is now open, with applications due July 15. Organizations that received a CARES grant in the first round of funding can apply to receive funding in the second round if they have continuing need. Grant guidelines are as follows:

  • Grants of up to $7,500 will be available to non-profit organizations across Wisconsin that provide humanities programming as a significant part of their mission and that are facing financial hardship due to COVID-19.
  • Grants are available for general operating expenses only. These include expenses such as salaries, rent, utilities, supplies, and equipment. Organizations seeking humanities program support should apply for a WHC mini or major grant.
  • No matching funds are required.
Other Funding

On April 6, the Institute of Museum and Library Services announced the first of a number of critical measures to aid museums, libraries, and communities across the nation in response to COVID-19. The new guidelines outline how institutions with open IMLS grants may adapt their existing fund balances to address immediate needs and extend timelines for their work to accommodate the disruption caused by coronavirus. Additionally, on March 27, the CARES Act allocated $50 million in funding for IMLS to address the COVID-related digital divide. More information on the availability of these funds will be forthcoming. For the latest information, subscribe to IMLS News or click here.

The Otto Bremer Trust, one of Minnesota’s largest charitable organizations, announced the creation of a $50 million emergency fund to be set up through its Community Benefit Financial Company subsidiary to provide financial support to Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Montana nonprofits and other community organizations. The new fund will provide emergency funding, loans, lines of credit, and other financial resources to organizations impacted by and responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.

NEW! Resources on Reopening

As history organizations around the state plan for the eventual reopening of sites to the public, the following resources may provide helpful information. Organizations should follow the guidance of public health officials and local and state government agencies. Some of the resources we are posting are state guidelines, like those from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

Wisconsin Historical Society:

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Guidelines:

AASLH webinars:

Other resources:

American Association for State and Local History

The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) offers a variety of resources to assist local history organizations during this time. Click here to explore blog posts, webinars and resources, and links to external resources.

AASLH webinars:

American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums website offers a full directory of resources for museums affected by the COVID-19 pandemic here. These include:

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training

The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training has created a brief on Cultural Resources and COVID-19 and offers several instructional videos. These include:

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has assembled a collection of resources for historic places. Additionally, they are offering the following webinars:

Collections Care

Selected resources on collections care:

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Janet Seymour
c/o University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
105 Garfield Avenue, Hibbard 728
Eau Claire, WI 54701-4004
Phone: 715-836-2250