Winterthur Awarded Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities

Winterthur has been selected for the prestigious Humanities Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The $350,000 grant will enable Winterthur to update and enhance the Museum’s environmental monitoring and control systems necessary for collection preservation in its three major buildings — the Museum, the Louise DuPont Crowninshield Research Building, and the Conservation Laboratories.

When combined with a significantly larger matching amount by Winterthur, the $350,000 grant from NEH will address the environmental control issues in Winterthur’s Collection areas by:

• Installing a new, integrated, state-of-the art wireless monitoring and control system to replace obsolete systems and technology throughout collection areas. The new system will report real time data through an interface developed for this project in partnership with the Image Permanence Institute.

• Significantly upgrading mechanical equipment to improve control over different rooms in the Museum, Galleries and Research Building, each of which have different environmental needs based on variable sun exposure, floor, proximity to heat ducts and windows, ventilation requirements, and occupancy.

• Using data from the new monitoring and control system to safely test and implement significant operational energy efficiencies in collection areas. Recent research has discovered that most objects can safely tolerate a broader environmental range than that provided by the older technology currently in place.

The project will benefit the region and cultural heritage collections nationally by:

• Lowering energy consumption and reducing Winterthur’s carbon footprint and the pollution caused by the fossil fuels used to produce energy. Mechanical upgrades will result in a savings of approximately 13%; operational efficiencies will achieve savings of at least 20%.

• Funds saved by reducing energy consumption will be used to enhance public programing, research, collection care and maintenance of this public treasure.

• Once thoroughly tested and developed, the new control system interface will be made available to other cultural institutions by the Image Permanence Institute.

• Lessons learned through testing and development of energy saving operational protocols will be widely disseminated through lectures, publications and an NEH white paper.

• Winterthur’s conservation graduate students in WUDPAC will be involved in the project, and carry these energy saving concepts to the institutions where work in the future.

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at:

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