Heart Mountain Foundation Receives CARES Act Grant

AmeriCorps VISTA museum educator Genesis Ranel filming a presentation by registrar Brandon Daake. Photo courtesy of Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation.

The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as part of the CARES Act legislation passed to help relieve the financial strain of the COVID-19 pandemic. The $92,852 grant will help the Foundation to retain staff at Heart Mountain Interpretive Center and to expand its online presence through the digitization of artifacts and the development of new online programs.

NEH CARES grants are intended to support essential operations at cultural institutions across all 50 states. The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation will use the grant to digitize documents and artifacts from the archives and to develop new online programs, including digital field trips for schools that cannot travel to the museum and additional online content for general audiences. These new projects will help the Foundation to retain its staff at Heart Mountain Interpretive Center during the ongoing pandemic.

Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation executive director Dakota Russell said the award will replace lost revenues from the downturn in visitation to the center, and may even provide new opportunities. “Many small museums like ours are in danger right now,” Russell said. “This funding will be critical to us in keeping the doors open. Beyond that, though, I think it presents us with a chance to expand our online presence and reach new audiences nationwide.”

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When the interpretive center closed for two months this spring, Russell and the staff quickly pivoted to producing online programs about the history of the camp. This grant will allow them to continue and expand that effort. Programs will be posted to the Foundation’s website at www.heartmountain.org, where past programs can also be viewed. New digital resources for educators will be posted to the website this fall.

Heart Mountain Interpretive Center tells the story of some 14,000 Japanese Americans unjustly incarcerated in Wyoming from 1942 to 1945. The center is located between Cody and Powell on Highway 14A. For more information about the interpretive center, please call (307) 754-8000.

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