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Bank of America and Institute of Museum and Library Services Announce Effort to Save U.S. Museum, Library Collections


The Bank of America/IMLS American Heritage Preservation Program will provide direct grants to preserve objects of historical value

A grant program to fund the preservation of endangered and fragile collections of art and historical documents held in the nation’s small and medium sized museums, archives and libraries was announced today by Anne-Imelda Radice, director of the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Rena M. DeSisto, Arts and Culture Executive for Bank of America.

The Bank of America Charitable Foundation will contribute $225,000 to the Institute of Museum and Library Services in support of the American Heritage Preservation Program. IMLS is matching the bank’s contribution with an additional $225,000. Through this combined effort, some 150 grants of $3,000 will be awarded over three years to help preserve treasures held in small museums, libraries, and archives.

This public-private partnership builds on the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ Connecting to Collections: A Call to Action, a multi-year, multi-pronged initiative to raise public awareness and inspire action on the care of America’s collections. That initiative implements recommendations of an IMLS-supported study, A Public Trust at Risk: The Heritage Health Index Report on the State of America’s Collections, which found that nearly 190 million objects in U.S. collections are in immediate danger of deterioration and need restoration or conservation.

“The history of this country is contained not just in large museums and historical societies but in small town libraries that have become the storehouses for a community’s precious artifacts, documents and institutional memory.” said Radice, “The Heritage Health Index showed us that these collections are at great risk and need proper storage, handling or conservation.”

The report noted that sixty-five percent of collecting institutions report damage to collections due to improper storage; eighty percent of these institutions are without an emergency plan for their collections and staff trained to carry it out; and forty percent have no funds allocated in their annual budgets for the fundamental care of their collections.

“Through this program, local institutions that traditionally lack the resources to properly maintain historical articles will be able to apply for grants to preserve them,” said DeSisto. “Documentation of a community’s heritage is a vital component of instilling pride and vibrancy into America’s communities and preserving our collective American heritage. As our nation ages, so too do the treasures that attest to the values this country was built upon. In many cases, Bank of America and its predecessors played a role in the economic development of these communities, much as we do today.”

“We are so pleased to enter into this public-private partnership with Bank of America, a corporate leader and cultural role model,” said Radice. “Bank of America’s investment in these community conservation grants will help preserve our national heritage.”


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