February 20, 2020
Two Mass. Cultural Nonprofits Get $532K to Build Capacity

January 19, 2020 — The National Endowment for the Humanities last week announced it has awarded a total of $532,500 to two Massachusetts nonprofits to enhance their capacity by supporting greater access to their cultural and educational resources.

“These new NEH grants will expand access to the country’s wealth of historical, literary, and artistic resources by helping archivists and curators care for important heritage collections, and using new media to inspire examination of significant texts and ideas,” said Jon Parrish Peede, chairman of the endowment. “In keeping with NEH’s A More Perfect Union initiative, these projects will open pathways for students to engage meaningfully with the humanities and focus public attention on the history, culture, and political thought of the United States’ first 250 years as a nation.”

Receiving the grants were:
  • The Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) in Andover, founded in1973, the first independent conservation laboratory in the United States to specialize exclusively in the conservation and preservation of paper- and film-based collections.

    It was awarded $350,000 for preservation education and training through a preservation field-service program that will provide assessments, workshops, and seminars (in-person and online), technical consultations, and disaster assistance to libraries, archives, and other cultural heritage repositories, predominantly in the Northeast.

  • The Boston Athenaeum in Boston, which seeks to" engage all who seek knowledge by making accessible our library’s collections and spaces, thereby inspiring reflection, discourse, creative expression, and joy."

    It was awarded a challenge grant of $182,500 to support capacity enhancement through the establishment of a full-time position for a paper conservator specializing in fine art and photography, indirect costs for a related conservation laboratory, and the purchase of supplies.
NEDCC, a national leader in training on digital preservation, provides professional conservation treatment for books, maps, photographs, documents, parchment, papyrus, manuscripts, architectural plans, and works of art on paper. NEDCC treats many highly significant paper and photographic objects and continues to be a premiere center for difficult conservation challenges.

Founded in 1807, the Boston Athenaeum grew out of an earlier organization known as the Anthology Society which had been formed in 1805 by a group of Bostonians with the primary purpose of producing a magazine The Monthly Anthology and Boston Review. The intent was to form "an establishment similar to that of the Athenaeum and Lyceum of Liverpool in Great Britain; combining the advantages of a public library [and] containing the great works of learning and science in all languages."

In 1827, the Athenaeum added an art gallery and began a series of yearly exhibitions of American and European art. For nearly half a century the Athenaeum was the primary center of intellectual life in Boston, and by 1851, had become one of the largest libraries in the United States. Today its collections comprise over half a million volumes, with particular strengths in Boston history, New England state and local history, biography, English and American literature, and the fine and decorative arts.

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