About the Initiative

Heritage Health Index

cover of the Heritage Health Index"A Public Trust at Risk: The Heritage Health Index Report on the State of America’s Collections (HHI)," a project of Heritage Preservation and IMLS, revealed that our collections of objects, documents, and digital material are not only essential to America’s cultural health, but are imperiled and in need of swift protective action.

The study’s findings, announced in 2005, are sobering. HHI concluded that

  • 190 million objects held by archives, historical societies, libraries, museums, and scientific organizations in the United States are in need of conservation treatment;
  • 65 percent of collecting institutions have experienced damage to collections due to improper storage;
  • 80 percent of collecting institutions do not have an emergency plan that includes collections, with staff trained to carry it out; and
  • 40 percent of institutions have no funds allocated in their annual budgets for preservation or conservation.

HHI identified four concrete recommendations to greatly alleviate serious conservation problems and spare us the painful loss of some of our most valued treasures. For more information, visit the HHI Web site.

In addition to support from IMLS, the study was also made possible by the Getty Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Bay and Paul Foundations, the Peck Stacpoole Foundation, and the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

Meeting the Needs Identified by HHI
The Institute has long supported projects that seek to address the needs that have now been documented by HHI. Components of preservation and conservation are supported by all of the Institute’s grant categories. IMLS funds institution-based projects, as well as broader, collaborative efforts. See www.imls.gov for more examples.