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IMLS Announces Save America’s Treasures Grant Awards

February 1, 2011


IMLS Press Contacts

Natasha Marstiller,
Mamie Bittner,

Washington, DC—The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded nine Save America’s Treasures Grants.


Save America’s Treasures makes critical investments in the preservation of our nation’s most significant and endangered cultural treasures, which illustrate, interpret, and embody the great events, ideas, and individuals that contribute to America’s history and culture. This legacy includes the built environment as well as documents, records, artifacts, and artistic works.
Collectively, Save America’s Treasures projects are as diverse as the peoples and cultures of this country. They tell our nation’s story and ensure that our legacy is passed on to future generations.
"These Save America’s Treasures grants will preserve the physical fabric of our history and the rich diversity of America’s story, as told by its artists, scholars, and statesmen. These awards also honor the hundreds of volunteers, organizations, and communities whose energy and investment are ensuring that this national legacy endures for generations to come," said First Lady Michelle Obama.
This year grants administered by IMLS will support nine projects that will help to save endangered museum collections. "The scope and breadth of the historical and scientific record that will be touched by these nine projects is amazing," said Susan Hildreth, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
"They include rare notebooks that document the construction of the Panama Canal, the only known Alutiiq warrior kayak, tree ring collections that tell the story of prehistoric times, archeological collections that reveal the story of survival of enslaved plantation workers, civil war flags that date to reconstruction, quilts that document 300 years of societal change, and historical circus posters. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is very proud of the work that the Save America’s Treasures recipients are doing to tell America’s story for future generations."
This year, IMLS will administer grants to the following nine institutions:
1. Arizona Board of Regents, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Dendrochronology Collection
This huge repository of wood specimens contains more than 2 million pieces. With this raw material, researchers can pinpoint single-year dates for past events and processes, which is vital to studying climate change and unlocking the pre-industrial history of the United States. Funds will provide storage systems within a climate-controlled environment to address current threats from rodents, insects, floods, and temperature variations.
2. Old State House Museum, Little Rock, AR
Civil War Battle Flag Collection
Save America’s Treasures funding will treat three fragile battle flags. One is linked to Arkansas regiments that fought in every major Army of Tennessee battle, and a second represents an Arkansas artillery unit known for its role at the Battle of Pea Ridge. An 1868 flag is the only one of its kind from a battle between Confederate veterans and a state-organized militia during Reconstruction, representing the violent political struggles that followed the Civil War.
3. Bridgeport Public Library, Bridgeport, CT
Barnum and London Circus Posters
Two hundred years after the birth of P.T. Barnum of Barnum & Bailey Circus and Ringling Brothers, Bridgeport Public Library holds 47 "Barnum and London" circus posters in need of conservation treatment. Save America’s Treasures grant funds will be used to clean, repair, and strengthen the posters and then digitally photograph them, expanding access to the collection.
4. Yale University Peabody Museum, New Haven, CT
19th-Century Dinosaur Collections of Othniel Charles Marsh
Othniel Charles Marsh was a leading American paleontologist whose dinosaur collection proved invaluable as the fossil record Charles Darwin needed to develop his theory of evolution. America’s Treasures grant will help re-house the collection in a climate controlled environment, providing greater improve access to the collection.
5. Harvard University Peabody Museum, Cambridge, MA
Historic Alaska Native Kayaks and Related Collections
The only known Alutiiq warrior kayak is the centerpiece of the Peabody Museum’s collection of more than 100 kayaks and other related objects. Kayaks and their accessories embody a chain of indigenous technological knowledge, craftsmanship, and spiritual beliefs passed down through generations. The SAT grant will support collaboration between the museum and the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository to document, research and re-house the kayak and other materials in a climate-controlled environment.
6. Linda Hall Library, Kansas City, MO
A.B. Nichols Panama Canal Collection
The A.B. Nichols Panama Canal Collection at the Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering & Technology is an archive of rare and unique materials generated during the Panama Canal’s construction from the late 19th century to 1923. For scholars, historians, writers and others this archive provides original source material for one of the world’s greatest engineering achievements. Funds will preserve, digitize, and publicize ten notebooks, containing some 700 brittle items and two photo albums.
7. Board of Regents, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
Ardis and Robert James Collection
The Ardis and Robert James Collection at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a priceless assemblage of quilts dating from the late 1700s to the 20th century. The collection represents the creative expressions of women whose work was clearly influenced by international, national, regional, and local events and societal changes. In many cases, the greatest threats to their long term survival are the chemistry of the dyes and inks used in their making, and the inherently fragile nature of some fabrics. SAT funds will be used to conserve a priority group of these rare, nationally significant quilts so that they will be available for display and study.
8. Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, Santa Fe, NM
Indian Arts & Culture Collections
The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture collections tell an intricately woven history of the many peoples and cultures of the Southwest. Millions of objects, artifacts, and samples are an irreplaceable legacy for Native and Anglo cultures. Grant assistance will support the purchase of storage furnishings for a new archaeological repository featuring climate control and fire-suppression technology.
9. South Carolina Research Foundation, Columbia , SC
Yaughan and Curriboo Archaeological Collections
Archaeological collections from the Yaughan and Curriboo plantations comprise one of the most important perspectives on the everyday lives of enslaved Africans and African Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries. Of particular interest are the strategies used by individuals to survive their enslavement as the local agrarian economy moved from rice, to indigo, to cotton. Funds will support the stabilization, preservation, and digitization of the collections.
Grants are awarded to federal, state, local, and tribal government entities, and non-profit organizations through a competitive matching-grant program, administered by the National Park Service in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), IMLS, and the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH).
The evaluation and recommendation of SAT grants is carried out by an interagency group that blends cross-disciplinary expertise of the federal cultural agencies (IMLS, NEA, and NEH) and the NPS, which administers the program in collaboration with PCAH. In addition to reviewing and making recommendations on grant applications, each agency administers a number of grants.
For more information about the 2011 Save America's Treasures grants, please click here.
Additional information on the Save America’s Treasures program can be found on the PCAH Web site at, the NPS Web site at
Media Contacts:
Kimber Craine, PCAH
David Barna, NPS
Victoria Hutter, NEA
Paula Wasley, NEH


About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit