Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions

If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, [your museum] can become it.” –William Arthur Ward (1921-1994)

With plenty of planning and persistence, the dreams you have for your institution can become grant-funded realities. 

The deadline for the National Endowment of the Humanities Preservation Assistance Grant applications is quickly approaching–May 1, 2012. Look closely at this opportunity to take steps toward improving storage conditions for your collection. Our staff recently sat in on a presentation by Elizabeth Joffrion, Senior Program Officer for NEH’s Division of Preservation and Access. Joffrion stressed several elements of the grant program to keep in mind:

  • Funded projects are primarily consultations/ assessments, professional training, or storage upgrades.
  • Grants are awarded for projects costing up to $6,000; no cost sharing is required.
  • In the past several years, 40-50% of applications have been successful.
  • Professional consultations are key. If your institution has not yet had an assessment, this grant can be used to fund one. Before considering upgrading storage in any way, you must be able to provide a report written by appropriately trained professionals, prioritizing recommendations for your institution.


  • Small-budget entities within larger umbrella organizations are definitely eligible to apply.
  • Consider collaborations with other organizations in your immediate area. Especially if others have shared needs for professional expertise and training, multiple institutions could work together to make a strong application.

Application Tips:

  • Stress the relevance of your collection to the humanities. The application narrative should be five pages and Joffrion recommended devoting at least one page to a description of your collection and its significance for the humanities.
  • Your institution must be committed to making its collection accessible. NEH has become more flexible about requiring a certain number of days the institution must be open to the public. Contact program staff, if your site is open less than 100 days/year and you are interested in applying. A sample successful application from a small museum serves as a good accessibility benchmark.

NEH’s online grant guidelines advise that systems will be down at the end of April for several days. Therefore, don’t wait until the last minute to start working with the website. All applications must be submitted online, and with the impending technical outtage, make sure you get a headstart.


About collectionsconversations

This blog will contain posts from the C2C project staff on a variety of topics related to collections care and disaster preparedness. Enjoy the posts and let us know if you would like additional information or have a topic you would like for us to address.

Posted on March 16, 2012, in collections access, collections care, collections management, storage and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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