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Helping Historic Places Thrive

American Express has deep roots in the travel services industry, stretching all the way back to World War I. That’s why we feel so connected to historic places around the world, particularly significant tourist destinations. We understand the cultural and economic value they bring to communities. We are committed to backing the continuing stewardship of these places to ensure they can be experienced and enjoyed by you and generations to come.

We preserve places

We support projects that help communities preserve or rediscover historic landmarks and public spaces, providing sustainable, ongoing access to the public, now and in the future. Our emphasis is on sites that represent diverse cultures and engage the public in unique ways.

Since 1974, we have contributed over $85 million in support of historic preservation efforts around the world. Our funding has supported more than 750 projects, from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam to the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C..

Saving The World’S Most Treasured Places

We are the founding sponsor of the World Monuments Watch, which draws attention to cultural heritage sites around the world threatened by neglect,, armed conflict, encroaching urbanization, natural disasters and climate change. In its over 50 years of vital action, World Monuments Fund has orchestrated over 600 conservation projects in over 100 countries.

Restoring America's Historic Landmarks And Communities

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and restoring America's historic landmarks and communities. In 2006, we joined forces with the National Trust to form Partners in Preservation to engage the public in preserving historic places. Over the past 13 years, the program has provided more than $28 million in support of 260 historic sites across the country, including 20 national parks, 14 cities, and 65 Main Street communities, and has engaged more than a million people through events and online voting. Our latest effort was the third Partners in Preservation: Main Streets, which placed a special emphasis on historic buildings and sites that celebrate the contributions of women in communities across America to honor the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote.

Grant Criteria:

Applications for grants in this program are accepted by invitation only. The projects we support embrace the sustainability of historic and cultural places and demonstrate their significance to the community through one or more of the following:

  • Enhanced visitor experiences and engagement
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Local culture awareness and economic viability for communities
  • Better site interpretations and storytelling
  • Virtual tours and augmented reality.

Recent Grants

Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel, NY

Support for the development and public launch of a multi-media and augmented reality tour of the 1969 Woodstock Festival site, a National Register historic site, at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. Using emerging technologies and archival materials, the tour will engage thousands of visitors in an immersive, interpretive experience. Specifically, the Center’s plan includes delivering a Woodstock-branded mobile application, featuring images, video and custom-built interactives. To create a fully immersive experience, three-dimensional audio and content “hotspots” will trigger augmented reality featuring scenes and music from the Festival.

Global Heritage Fund, China (Multiple sites)

Support for conservation activities at three diverse heritage sites in China: Dali Village, Maijishan, and Pingyao. The grant will support the improvement of interpretation and visitor experiences, as well as capacity building and leadership nurturing for site managers and the communities living in and around the heritage sites.

Rails to Trails Conservancy, Washington, D.C. to Washington State

Support for the illumination of historic people and places along the Great American Rail-Trail through interactive experiences on TrailLink.com. Spanning 3,700 miles, the Great American Rail-Trail will travel through Washington, D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington, and is the nation’s largest trail project. Rails to Trails Conservancy will collect historical information and develop narrative organized by each of the 12 states and Washington, D.C., that will be documented through multi-media such as audio narration, photos and videos.

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Support for the restoration of Rembrandt’s Night Watch painting, which will be streamed online so that an international audience can witness this project. For the first time in history, the Night Watch will undergo a "full body scan" through highly advanced imaging techniques. The painting will be encased in a glass chamber, providing a unique peek into the process of conserving an iconic painting to visitors. The imaging scientists will edit and stitch together over 13,000 ultra-high-resolution images. As a result, researchers and the on-line audience will be able to analyze the painting in unprecedented detail. The Rijksmuseum’s team will use these high definition images of the painting as a fundamental source of information for the restoration effort that will follow. In addition to the research done by the Rijksmuseum’s team, experts from all over the world will be able to view the restoration in real-time and use the images for their own research.

National Trust for Historic Preservation, Washington, D.C.

Support for the National Trust's campaign to designate the Tidal Basin as a National Treasure, and to launch the first phase, an Ideas Lab, to develop a vision to sustain the Tidal Basin for the next 150 years. The National Mall Tidal Basin Ideas Lab will create a new forum that encourages big thinking, creative exploration and innovative ideas by pairing private sector ingenuity and public participation with thoughtful preservation to develop a bold, ambitious and integrated vision for one of America’s most iconic public spaces. Participants will lend their thoughts and expertise toward the development of an integrated framework around five challenges specific to the Tidal Basin: security, circulation, hydrology, cultural landscape and visitor experience.