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October 21, 2008

IMLS awards CW grant for more than $900,000

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has received a National Leadership Grant (NLG) from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The grant totals more than $943,000.

The NLG will go toward funding Virtual Williamsburg. Colonial Williamsburg is partnering with the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia to develop 3-D computer models of five unique historical sites within Colonial Williamsburg as they appeared in 1776, and provide scanned, digitized facades of 23 buildings to create a complete streetscape. This high-quality 3-D experience will be aimed at the general public, as well as researchers and scholars of history. The models will be interactive and will enable users to experience the historical sites through virtual re-creations that access the wealth of historical documentation amassed by Williamsburg scholars.

“Virtual Williamsburg is a cutting edge project that will pioneer the application of sophisticated virtual reality technologies to a new generation of educational materials,” said Jim Horn, Colonial Williamsburg’s vice president of research and historical interpretation, and the Abby and George O’Neill Director of the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library. “I believe the approach will be extremely helpful to museums seeking to enrich visitors’ on-site experiences with a compelling online experience and will be of great benefit in expanding museum audiences, especially among the young.”

The largest museum and library joint grant program administered by IMLS, these grants support projects that will advance the ability of museums and libraries to preserve culture, heritage and knowledge while enhancing learning. Colonial Williamsburg was among 44 institutions that received $18.2 million.

“Museums and libraries are trusted stewards of our nation’s cultural heritage and are an important part of our education, community and identity,” said IMLS director Anne-Imelda Radice. “The institutions receiving National Leadership Grants have developed programs that will elevate the museum and library practice, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services is proud to support their endeavors.”

IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. “Revolutionary City®” -- a dramatic live street theater presentation -- is a 2008 Rand McNally Best-of-the-Road™ Editor’s Pick. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121