National Endowment for the Humanities: Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections
Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections (SCHC) helps cultural institutions meet the complex challenge of preserving large and diverse holdings of humanities materials for future generations by supporting sustainable conservation measures that mitigate deterioration and prolong the useful life of collections.
Libraries, archives, museums, and historical organizations across the country face an enormous challenge: to preserve collections that facilitate research, strengthen teaching, and provide opportunities for life-long learning in the humanities. Ensuring the preservation of books and manuscripts, photographs, sound recordings and moving images, archaeological and ethnographic artifacts, art, and historical objects requires institutions to implement measures that slow deterioration and prevent catastrophic loss. This work is best accomplished through preventive conservation, which encompasses managing relative humidity, temperature, light, and pollutants in collection spaces; providing protective storage enclosures and systems for collections; and safeguarding collections from theft and from natural and man-made disasters. This program helps cultural repositories plan and implement preservation strategies that pragmatically balance effectiveness, cost, and environmental impact. Sustainable approaches to preservation can contribute to an institution’s financial health, reduce its use of fossil fuels, and benefit its green initiatives, while ensuring that collections are well cared for and available for use in humanities programming, education, and research.
Two types of grants are offered:
- Planning: Planning grants may encompass such activities as site visits, risk assessments, planning sessions, monitoring, testing, modeling, project-specific research, and preliminary designs for implementation projects. Planning grants must focus on exploring sustainable preventive conservation strategies. They also must involve an interdisciplinary team appropriate to the goals of the project. The team may consist of consultants and members of the institution’s staff and might include architects, building engineers, conservation scientists, conservators, curators, and facilities managers, among others. A preservation/conservation professional who works with collections must be included on the planning team. All members of the team must be identified in the application, and they should all work collaboratively throughout the planning process.
- Implementation: Implementation projects must focus on sustainable preservation strategies. Projects should be based on planning that has been specific to the needs of the institution and its collections within the context of its local environment.
Amount: Up to $40,000 for Planning grants, and up to $350,000 for Implementation grants.
Eligibility: U.S. nonprofit organizations; state and local governmental agencies; and federally recognized Indian tribal governments.
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