The Gerda Henkel Foundation was established in June 1976 by Lisa Maskell in memory of her mother Gerda Henkel as a private, non-profit grant making organization. The Foundation has its headquarters in Düsseldorf. The sole object of the Foundation is to promote science at universities and research institutes, primarily by supporting specific projects in the field of the humanities that have a specialist scope and are limited in time. A special concern of the Foundation is the advancement of postgraduates.
The Gerda Henkel Foundation concentrates its support on the historical humanities, mainly on history, archaeology, the history of art and other disciplines with a historical component. For a number of years, the Foundation has also increasingly addressed issues of great relevance to contemporary life and the future, above all as part of its special programmes “Islam, the Modern Nation State and Transnational Movements” and “Security, Society and the State”. As part of the Lisa Maskell Fellowships, since 2014 the Foundation has been supporting young scholars in the humanities in both Africa and Southeast Asia. Starting in 2015, the Foundation has with its “Patrimonies” funding initiative focused more strongly on the preservation of cultural heritage, specifically in regions experiencing crisis. The Gerda Henkel Foundation is active both inside and outside Germany.