NEH Planning Grant Opportunity

The Division of Preservation and Access at the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has posted guidelines for Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections Planning and Implementation grants. Nonprofit museums, libraries, archives, and educational institutions in the United States can apply for grants to plan and implement preventive conservation projects that are cost effective, energy efficient, and environmentally sensitive.

NEH is looking for planning and implementation projects which incorporate preservation strategies that balance effectiveness, cost, and environmental impact.  Projects should "aim to mitigate the greatest risks to collections rather than to meet prescriptive targets."  Planning grant activities can include managing relative humidity, temperature, light and pollutants in collection storage areas; providing protective storage enclosures and systems for collections; and safeguarding collections from theft and natural and man-made disasters. Implementation grant funds should be used to manage interior relative humidity and temperature by passive methods; install heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems; install storage systems and rehouse collections; improve security and the protection of collections from fire, flood, and other disasters; or to upgrade lighting systems and controls to achieve levels suitable for collections that are energy efficient. Projects that seek to implement preventive conservation measures in sustainable ways are especially encouraged.

The application deadline is December 1, 2011

Guidelines are available at

Planning Grants – Apply for up to $40,000, with an option of up to $50,000

Implementation Grants – Apply for up to $350,000

Note: New This Year – applicants for NEH SCHC planning projects may request up to an additional $10,000 to carry out one or more recommendations made by the interdisciplinary planning team during the course of the project.


Planning Grants

The granting agency recommends that you involve an interdisciplinary team appropriate to the goals of your project. Projects should include an internal team of collections care and facility management staff which will consult with architects, building engineers, conservation scientists, conservators, curators, and other specialists as appropriate.

Dr. Erin Blake, Curator of Folger Shakespeare LibraryIPI is uniquely qualified to work with your institution on sustainability projects. The project we developed with the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC was used on the NEH grant guidelines website as an example of an exceptional Sustainable Cultural Heritage Collections (SCHC) project ( We will begin a similar project with the Harvard Divinity School Library this fall. In the last year or so we have consulted on sustainable mechanical system operation and environmental management with Winterthur Museum in Delaware, Newport Art Museum in Rhode Island, Monhegan Museum in Maine, Houghton College Library and Mohonk Preserve, both in New York.

IPI can provide consultation and advice on environmental monitoring project design, defining realistic parameters for temperature and relative humidity settings, and balancing the need to achieve both preservation quality and sustainable practices. We can provide on-site evaluation as well as hardware and software for monitoring and analyzing the storage environment.