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 preventive conservation measures that mitigate deterioration and prolong the useful life of collections.
Libraries, archives, museums, and historical organizations across the country are responsible for collections of books and manuscripts, photographs, sound recordings and moving images, archaeological and ethnographic artifacts, art, and historical objects that facilitate research, strengthen teaching, and provide opportunities for life-long learning in the humanities. To preserve and ensure continued access to such collections, institutions must implement preventive conservation measures, which encompass 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 scientifically sound and sustainable. This program therefore helps cultural repositories plan and implement preservation strategies that pragmatically balance effectiveness, cost, and environmental impact. Such a balance can contribute to an institution’s financial health, reduce its use of fossil fuels, and benefit its green initiatives, while ensuring that significant collections are well cared for and available for use in humanities programming, education, and research.
In the first four competitions the Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections received an average of 97 applications per year. The program made an average of 18 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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
Contact the staff of NEH’s Division of Preservation and Access at email@example.com  and 202-606-8570. Hearing-impaired applicants can contact NEH via TDD at 1-866-372-2930.