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Museum Announces Gift from Lilly Endowment Inc.

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Museum Announces $2.5M Gift from Lilly Endowment Inc. to Support

Museum’s Programs on Ethics, Religion and the Holocaust

One of 16 museums and cultural institutions chosen to help 

strengthen public understanding of religion here and abroad

WASHINGTON — The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum today announced a $2.5 million endowment gift from Lilly Endowment Inc. of Indianapolis to expand the institution’s programming on ethics, religion and the Holocaust as well as establish an endowment for the program’s director. 

“The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s decades-long work on religion, ethics and the Holocaust has garnered exciting new scholarship and understandings of individual and institutional responses to Nazism and genocide,” says Lisa Leff, director of the Museum’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. “This foundational investment ensures that our focus on the religious and ethical dimensions of the Holocaust will continue to be a core part of the Museum’s scholarly research and will allow us to  strengthen our engagement with faith-based institutions and thought leaders on these critical issues.” 

With the grant, the Museum seeks to further foster understanding among the public, clergy, scholars and other religious thought leaders about the relationship between the Holocaust and faith-based traditions. In addition, the Museum will  develop diverse thematic and topical educational and scholarly programs and digital resources to attract and broaden participation of clergy, interfaith scholars and leaders, as well as to create long-term structures for engagement on religious topics across the institution. Among these initiatives: a new annual workshop that will serve as an introduction to the Holocaust and the Christian tradition, as well as a new program to bring existing interfaith groups from across North America to the Museum.

The Museum is one of 16 museums and other cultural institutions selected by Lilly Endowment in the latest round of its Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative. Through the initiative, Lilly Endowment is supporting the development of exhibitions and education programs that fairly and accurately portray the role of religion in the U.S. and around the world. This is the second round of grants the Endowment has made through its Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative; grants by the Endowment totaling more than $39 million were also given to the King Center in Atlanta, the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis and the Library of Congress. 

In 2021, the Museum received a planning grant of $100,000 from Lilly Endowment, which partly supported Rome-based researchers surveying the recently opened Vatican archives. The survey was part of the early phases of the Museum’s multi-year initiative to acquire and make accessible relevant records from the pontificate of Pius XII (1939-1948). The planning grant also supported a project to highlight the Museum's existing archival material related to religion to encourage new research on these topics. 

“Museums and other cultural institutions are some of the most trusted organizations in American life today, and they play a vital role in teaching visitors about the world,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “These organizations will undertake efforts to help visitors understand and appreciate the religious beliefs and practices of diverse religious communities and the impact that religion has had and continues to have on society.”

About the Campaign

This gift supports the Museum’s $1 billion campaign, Never Again: What You Do Matters. The Museum is making critical investments to keep Holocaust memory alive as a relevant, transformative force in the 21st century. 

About the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

A nonpartisan, federal educational institution, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is America’s national memorial to the victims of the Holocaust dedicated to ensuring the permanence of Holocaust memory, understanding, and relevance. Through the power of Holocaust history, the Museum challenges leaders and individuals worldwide to think critically about their role in society and to confront antisemitism and other forms of hate, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. For more information, visit

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J. K. Lilly and his sons, Eli and J.K. Jr., through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. Although the Endowment maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana, it also funds programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion.  While the primary aim of its religion grantmaking focuses on strengthening the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States, the Endowment also seeks to foster public understanding about religion and lift up in fair, accurate and balanced ways the contributions that people of all faiths and diverse religious communities make to our greater civic well-being.