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William E. Harmon Foundation (1922–1967)

Prominent Grants: Prominent grant recipients include Hale Woodruff, Langston Hughes, and Palmer Hayden.

Summary: The Harmon Foundation was established in 1922 by William E. Harmon. It served as a large-scale patron of African-American art and helped gain recognition for African-American artists who otherwise would have remained largely unknown. The William E. Harmon Foundation Award for Distinguished Achievement was created in 1926. It was known as an award for excellence in the visual arts, but was offered for distinguished achievement in many different fields among African-Americans or in the cause of race relations. This helped art education programs grow in many areas. In addition to the awards, the Foundation is also well known for its traveling exhibitions.

When the Foundation closed in the 1960s, it dispersed its considerable art collection among several institutions, including the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum and brand new National Portrait Gallery.