Awarded in conjunction with the museum's seventy-fifth anniversary, the grant could generate $75 million in endowment funds for four key areas: digital programs, education, conservation, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts. While the foundation already supports core programming in imaging science, photograph conservation, and CASVA fellowships, new areas of support will include digital outreach, digital imaging, and media production programs to ensure the preservation and dissemination of Gallery materials, as well as educational activities designed to make art accessible to all. Under the terms of the grant, the first $15 million must be matched, within five years, by $45 million from other private donors, with that funding permanently restricted to supporting the four areas. Once the museum has met that goal, the foundation will donate an additional $15 million.
Over the decades, the Mellon Foundation's support for NGA, which has strong ties to Andrew W. Mellon, the late Pittsburgh financier and U.S. treasury secretary whose art collection formed the basis for the museum, has totaled some $93 million, including $35 million for the construction of its East Building, which opened in 1978.
"Endowment is always difficult," National Gallery director Earl Powell III told the Washington Post. "It is the hardest money to raise, and that’s why this is so important. It will stabilize key core programs."