Guggenheim Fellowship

Have you ever wanted to get paid to purely pursue your passion? The Guggenheim Fellowship was established in 1925 so scholars and creatives could take time to focus solely on their work and research. The fellowship has sponsored over 18,000 fine artists, writers, scientists, and scholars, broadening fields of knowledge and lending gems of creative work and research to society. Many Guggenheim fellows have even gone on to be Nobel laureates!

Guggenheim Fellowship Guggenheim Fellowship

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Table of contents

    About the Guggenheim Fellowship

    The Guggenheim Fellowships are grants given to individuals who have demonstrated an exceptional ability to contribute to the arts and sciences through scholarship and creative abilities. The fellowship aims to provide funding to scholars and creatives so that they can focus purely on their work.

    About 175 Guggenheim Fellowships are given annually to citizens and permanent residents of the United States and Canada. The fellowship provides annual grants for around $30,000 to $45,000 per person.

    How Do You Get A Guggenheim Fellowship?

    Guggenheim Fellowships are awarded to mid-career professionals who have already demonstrated some expertise or ability in their field—for example, an author who has already published a book. Fellowships are unavailable to students or people writing or creating work for young audiences.

    Applicants must submit references, a resume, and a portfolio. About 3,000 to 4,000 applications are received each year, but only about 175 Fellowships are granted. Currently, you must be an American or Canadian citizen or permanent resident to apply.

    Founders of the Guggenheim Fellowship

    The Guggenheim Fellowship was created in 1925 by Senator Simon Guggenheim and his wife, Olga Guggenheim. The couple created the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in memory of their son, who died at 17, just before heading off for college. John Simon Jr. was a promising young scholar, so the Guggenheims wanted to commemorate his intellect by contributing to the field of knowledge in the sciences and the arts.

    Guggenheim Fellowship, Senator Simon Guggenheim, StudySmarterFig. 1 Senator Simon Guggenheim was a Republican senator from Colorado from 1907 to 1913.

    The founder of the Memorial Foundation, John Simon Guggenheim (1867‐1941), was an American businessman, politician, and philanthropist. He came from an American‐Jewish family with an established mining and smelting company. Guggenheim worked for his family's mining company before becoming a politician.

    Guggenheim was also a generous philanthropist. When he married his wife Olga Hirsch in November of 1898, the couple held a Thanksgiving dinner for 5,000 poor children in Manhattan, New York City. When their first child John Simon Guggenheim, Jr. was born in 1905, the couple donated $80,000 to the public research university, the Colorado School of Mines. At the time, it was the largest private grant ever given to a state university.

    The Guggenheim Museums

    Many members of the Guggenheim family were notable philanthropists and patrons of the arts. John Simon Guggenheim's brother, Solomon R. Guggenheim, established The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to promote appreciation of modern and contemporary art in 1927. The foundation aids art exhibitions, education, research, and artists to the present day.

    The first Guggenheim museum opened in New York City in 1959. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation has created an international array of museums, including the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice, Italy, and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. A Guggenheim museum in Abu Dhabi designed by the renowned Canadian‐American architect, Frank Gehry, is currently under construction.

    Guggenheim Fellowship, Guggenheim Museum, StudySmarterFig. 2 The Guggenheim Museum in New York City was designed by the famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

    Purpose of the Guggenheim Fellowship

    The purpose of the Guggenheim Fellowship is to financially support professionals who have greatly contributed and published within the humanities, creative arts, and natural and social sciences. The Guggenheim Fellowship aims to support scholars and creatives regardless of race, creed, sex, or belief. The fellowship has supported women and ethnically diverse people in their scholarly and creative pursuits since its conception in 1925.

    In creating the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Senator Simon Guggenheim acknowledged that many of the great minds of society are hampered by their lack of financial support. The Memorial Foundation was created to financially back scholars and creatives to foster contributions to education, literature, art, and science.

    What Fields of Work Does the Guggenheim Fellowship Support?

    The Guggenheim Fellowships are granted to mid‐career professionals in an array of subjects in the arts and sciences. The 2022 Fellows have backgrounds in literature, mathematics, anthropology, architecture, astronomy, biology, choreography, computer science, engineering, history, film, fiction writing, fine arts, law, philosophy, photography, music composition, and more.

    Impact of the Guggenheim Fellowship

    The Guggenheim Fellowship has helped numerous scholars and artists produce significant work. Since its establishment in 1925, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has provided nearly $400 million to over 18,000 recipients.

    Over 125 recipients of the Guggenheim fellows have gone on to become Nobel Prize winners. Many Guggenheim fellows have also received Pulitzer Prizes, Fields Medals, Turing Awards, Bandcroft Prizes, and National Book Awards.

    The fellowship aims to support artists and scholars whose works will have an immediate and lasting impact. For example, the American author Zora Neale Hurston (1891‐1960) wrote her seminal novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), with the aid of a Guggenheim fellowship she was awarded in 1936.

    Zora Neale Hurston dedicated Their Eyes Were Watching God to the first president of the Guggenheim Foundation, Henry Allen Moe.

    Famous writers who were awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for Fiction include:

    • Margaret Atwood—Atwood was awarded the fellowship in 1981, and her novel The Handmaid's Tale was published in 1985.
    • Tim O'Brien—O'Brien, the author of The Things They Carried (1990), became a fellow in 1981.
    • Langston Hughes—Hughes became a fellow in 1935; his play Mulatto premiered the same year.
    • Vladimir Nabokov—Nabokov was awarded a Fellowship in 1943, allowing him to engage in a biographical study of Nikolai Gogel, a Russian writer.
    • Joyce Carol Oates—Oates, the author of Blonde (1999), received the fellowship in 1967.
    • John Updike—Updike was awarded the fellowship in 1959, helping him write his novel Rabbit Run (1960).
    • Kurt Vonnegut—Vonnegut, the author of Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), was awarded the fellowship in 1967.
    • Alice Walker—Walker, the author of The Color Purple, was awarded the fellowship in 1977.

    Famous poets who were awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for Poetry include:

    • A. R. Ammons—Ammons, the author of the poetry book Briefings (1971), became a Guggenheim fellow in 1966.
    • Gwendolyn Brooks—Brooks received the fellowship in 1946. It allowed her to work on her second poetry book, Annie Allen (1949).
    • Hart CraneThe American modernist poet famous for his book The Bridge became a Guggenheim fellow in 1931.
    • E. E. Cummings—Cummings, the poet famous for writing "i carry your heart with me," was awarded the fellowship in 1933 and 1951.
    • Robert Lowell—Lowell was awarded the fellowship in 1947, the same year he won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his second poetry book, Lord Weary's Castle (1946)
    • Theodore Roethke—The poet famous for writing "The Waking" (1953) received the fellowship in 1945 and 1950.
    • Richard Wilbur—The American poet and literary translator was awarded the fellowship in 1953 and 1963.

    It is no longer acceptable for an individual to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship more than once.

    History Timeline of the Guggenheim Fellowship

    Here are some significant events in the timeline of the history Guggenheim Fellowship:

    • 1925—Senator Simon Guggenheim and his wife, Olga, established the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
    • 1926—The first 15 American Guggenheim fellows were selected and were required to spend their terms of work/study outside of the United States.
    • 1929—The Guggenheim Foundation expressed its goal to make Fellowships available to citizens of different countries in the Western Hemisphere.
    • 1930—The Guggenheim Fellowship was established in Mexico.
    • 1931—The Guggenheim Fellowship was established in Argentina, Chile, and Cuba
    • 1932—The Guggenheim Fellowship was established in Puerto Rico
    • 1940—The Guggenheim Fellowship became open to Canadians as well as Americans.
    • 1941—The Guggenheim Foundation retracted the requirement that Fellows must work/study outside of the U.S.
    • 1951—All citizens and permanent residents in Latin America became eligible for Fellowships.
    • 1952—The Guggenheim Fellowship became open to people from the British West Indies.
    • 1988—Residents of the Philippines had been eligible to apply for the fellowship as the Philippines was a U.S. territory from 1898 to 1946. However, in 1988 applications from the Philippines were no longer accepted.
    • 2016—The Guggenheim Fellowship suspended its Latin American and Caribbean Fellowship program to examine its efficacy.
    • 2022—The Fellowship is still open for the United States and Canadian permanent residents and citizens.

    Guggenheim Fellowship - Key takeaways

    • The Guggenheim Fellowship aims to provide funding to scholars and creatives so they can focus purely on the production of their work.
    • The Guggenheim Fellowship was created in 1925 by Senator Simon Guggenheim and his wife, Olga Guggenheim.
    • Since its establishment in 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has provided nearly $400 million to over 18,000 recipients.
    • Over 125 recipients of the Guggenheim Fellowship have gone on to become Nobel Prize winners.

    • The Guggenheim Fellowship is currently open to permanent residents and citizens of the United States and Canada.


    References

    1. Fig 1: Senator Simon Guggenheim, Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons, (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/09/Simon_Guggenheim_cph.3a02257.jpg)
    Frequently Asked Questions about Guggenheim Fellowship

    How prestigious is a Guggenheim Fellowship?

    A Guggenheim Fellowship is a prestigious award. Recipients of the award include authors and poets such as Margaret Atwood, Langston Hughes, Kurt Vonnegut,  and E.E. Cummings. Over 125 Guggenheim fellows have become Nobel Prize laureates.

    How much money is a Guggenheim Fellowship?

    The amount of money awarded through a Guggenheim Fellowship depends on the applicant's circumstances. However, the average award is around $30,000 to $45,000.

    How competitive is the Guggenheim Fellowship? 

    The Guggenheim Fellowship is a highly competitive award. About 175 Fellowships are granted out of around 3,000 to 4,000 applications per year.

    What does a Guggenheim fellowship entail?

    A Guggenheim fellowship entails that an individual has displayed an exemplary aptitude for scholarship or creation in the arts or sciences. Applicants must be mid‐career professionals with published works. They must submit a portfolio, resume, and references. 

    What is the Guggenheim Fellowship?

    The Guggenheim Fellowships are grants given to individuals who have demonstrated an exceptional ability to contribute to the arts and sciences—both through scholarship and creative abilities. The Fellowship aims to provide funding to scholars and creatives so that they can focus purely on the production of their work. 

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    What year was the Guggenheim Fellowship created?

    True or False: The Fellowship has sponsored over 18,000 fine artists, writers, scientists, and scholars.

    About how many Guggenheim Fellowships are given out per year?

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