Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections

Division of Preservation and Access

Grant Snapshot

Maximum award amount

Planning: $50,000
Implementation: $350,000

Open to


Expected output

Preservation Supplies/Equipment;
Reports on Preventive Conservation

Period of performance

Up to two years for Planning; up to three years for Implementation

Application available (anticipated)

Next deadline (anticipated)

Expected notification date

Project start date

In compliance with the recently passed Build America, Buy America Act (Pub. L. 117-58 § 70901, et seq.), beginning May 14, 2022, all iron, steel, manufactured products, and construction materials used in projects involving construction, renovation, or facility infrastructure must have been produced in the United States.

The Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections 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 lifelong 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.

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 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.  Sustainable preventive conservation measures may also aim to prepare and plan for, absorb, respond to, recover from, and more successfully protect collections in the event of emergencies resulting from natural or human activity.

Click here – or on the video below – to view a recorded webinar for prospective applicants. Note: The webinar was recorded in December 2020, for the January 2021 deadline. It is still current for the January 2022 deadline. If you have any questions about the program, please contact us at @email.

Review your application package

Begin by reading the Notice of Funding Opportunity below to ensure you understand the expectations and restrictions for projects delivered under this grant and are prepared to write the most effective application.

Application Materials

Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections Notice of Funding Opportunity 2021 (PDF)

Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections application package

Program Resources

SF-429-A Real Property Status Report (PDF)

SF-429-A Instructions (PDF)

List of Recently Funded Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections

Sample Application Narratives

Planning Projects:

Autry Museum of the American West, Planning a Sustainable Preservation Environment

Buffalo Bill Memorial Association, Preserving Collections at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West

The Fort Ticonderoga Association, The Future is Calling: Developing a Master Preservation and Storage Needs Plan for Ticonderoga’s Collections

University of Arizona, Planning for the Sustainable Preservation of At-Risk Film in the Center for Creative Photography Archives

Implementation Projects:

Indianapolis Museum of Art, Inc., Creating a Suitable and Energy-Efficient Lighting Environment for the Preventive Conservation of the Permanent Collection

Philbrook Museum of Art, Inc., Sustainable HVAC Stabilization Phase 1

Shelburne Museum, Inc., Shelburne Museum Stagecoach Inn Renovation Project

The University of Kansas Center for Research, Inc., Improving energy efficiency in collection storage in Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas


    Register for a SAM number and an account on

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    Complete your application package

    Be sure to follow the instructions outlined in the notice of funding opportunity and in the instructions. 

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    Program Statistics

    In the last five competitions this program received an average of
    per year
    This program has a
    Funding Ratio
    NEH made an average of
    per year

    Examples of Projects Funded by this Grant Program