NEH Grant Opportunity

The Division of Preservation and Access at the National Endowment for the Humanities has announced Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections, a new preventive conservation grant program. Funds are available for both Planning and Evaluation Projects and Implementation Projects.  

Applications must be received by December 8, 2009.

Institutions applying for Planning and Evaluation projects should consider some of the consulting services available from IPI. These grants (which award up to $40,000) are designed to help institutions assess risks to collections and identify realistic approaches for mitigating them.  Your institution may want to:

  • Examine passive and low-energy alternatives to conventional energy-intensive systems for managing environmental conditions;
  • Analyze existing climate control systems and the performance characteristics of buildings and building envelopes to develop a plan for improved operation and energy efficiency;
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of preventive conservation strategies previously implemented, including performance upgrades to systems and building envelopes.

The granting agency recommends that you involve an interdisciplinary team appropriate to the goals of the project. An internal project team of collection care and facility management staff should work with consultants including architects, building engineers, conservation scientists, conservators, curators, and other specialists.

IPI is uniquely qualified to work with your institution on sustainability projects. We have been involved in the creation and field testing of monitoring and analysis tools and new preservation strategies for optimizing collection storage environments in cultural institutions for fifteen years. Field work is based on extensive laboratory research into accelerated aging and material decay designed to help collection managers determine how good or bad a given storage environment is by quantifying the rate of decay and applying it to the specific materials in the collection. We have worked closely with hundreds of institutions, including the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the National Museum of Denmark, and Yale University Libraries.

We can provide consultation and advice on environmental monitoring project design, setting realistic parameters for temperature and relative humidity settings, and balancing the need to achieve both preservation quality and sustainable practices. 

NEH Implementation Grants (with awards of up to $400,000) can support management of interior relative humidity and temperature by passive methods such as creating buffered spaces and housing, controlling moisture at its sources, or improving the thermal and moisture performance of a building envelope. Funds can also be used for installing or re-commissioning heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems; installing storage systems and rehousing collections; improving security and the protection of collections from fire, flood, and other disasters; and upgrading lighting systems and controls to achieve levels suitable for collections that are energy efficient.

Grant application guidelines are available on the NEH Web site. Please contact the division for more information by emailing preservation@neh.gov or calling (202) 606-8570.