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National Endowment for the Humanities: Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections

Deadline: January 31, 2019

The Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections (SCHC) program 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, prolong the useful life of collections, and support institutional resilience: the ability to anticipate and respond to disasters resulting from natural or human activity.

Cultural institutions, including libraries, archives, museums, and historical organizations, face an enormous challenge: to preserve humanities collections that facilitate research, strengthen teaching, and provide opportunities for life-long learning. To ensure the preservation of books and manuscripts, photographs, sound recordings and moving images, archaeological and ethnographic artifacts, art, and historical objects, cultural institutions must implement measures that slow deterioration and prevent catastrophic loss from emergencies resulting from natural or human activity. They can accomplish this work most effectively through preventive conservation. Preventive conservation encompasses managing relative humidity, temperature, light, and pollutants in collection spaces; providing protective storage enclosures and systems for collections; and safeguarding collections from theft, fire, floods, and other disasters.

Two types of grants are offered:

  • Planning: Planning grants help institutions develop and assess sustainable preventive conservation strategies, which may encompass such activities as on-site consultation, risk assessments, planning sessions, ongoing environmental monitoring programs, testing, modeling, project-specific research, and preliminary designs for implementation projects. Planning grants must be informed by an existing preservation or collection management plan and must focus on exploring sustainable preventive conservation or resiliency 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 or resilient 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. It is not necessary to receive a planning grant to be eligible for an implementation grant.

Amount: Planning grants typically range up to $50,000 for up to two years. Implementation grants range up to $350,000 for up to five years.

Eligibility: U.S. nonprofit organizations; state and local governmental agencies; and federally recognized Native American tribal governments.

Link: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=310485

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