Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections

Division of Preservation and Access

Grant Snapshot

Maximum award amount

Planning: $50,000
Implementation Level I: $100,000
Implementation Level II: $350,000

Open to


Expected output

Improved conditions for collection storage and display;
Improved systems and resilience for collections;
In-depth preservation studies and plans

Period of performance

Up to two years for Planning and Implementation Level I; up to three years for Implementation Level II

Application available

Optional draft due


Expected notification date

Project start date

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. 

For the January 2023 deadline, there are two levels of funding available at the Implementation phase. Level I (up to $100,000) is intended to address discrete preservation challenges that are identified through general preservation assessments at small to mid-sized institutions. Level I awards support organizations that have already undertaken a general preservation assessment or other targeted collections assessment, identified preservation challenges and priorities, and are ready to implement small-scale improvements to environmental conditions and other sustainable conservation measures. Level II (up to $350,000) provides funding for institutions of any size that have completed interdisciplinary planning and are prepared to implement more extensive preventive conservation projects. 

For more information on the funding levels and supported activities, please see the link to the Notice of Funding Opportunity.

For more information about the Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections program and the 2023 Notice of Funding Opportunity, you may refer to the pre-recorded webinar below. Captions are provided.

Review your application package

Read the Notice of Funding Opportunity to ensure you understand the expectations and restrictions for projects delivered under this program and are prepared to write the most effective application.

Application Materials

Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections Notice of Funding Opportunity 2023 (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 projects

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


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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