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.
As museums, libraries, archives, and other collecting institutions strive to be effective stewards of humanities collections, they must find ways to implement preventive conservation measures that are sustainable. This program therefore 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.
All applicants, whether applying for planning or implementation projects, are required to focus on sustainable preventive conservation strategies.
In the last five competitions the Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections received an average of 89 applications per year. The program made an average of 17 awards per year, for a funding ratio of 19 percent.
The number of applications to an NEH grant program can vary widely year to year, as can the funding ratio. Information about the average number of applications and awards in recent competitions is meant only to provide historical context for the current competition. Information on the number of applications and awards in individual competitions is available from email@example.com .
Contact the staff of NEH’s Division of Preservation and Access at firstname.lastname@example.org  and 202-606-8570. Hearing-impaired applicants can contact NEH via TDD at 1-866-372-2930.