Collections Care and Management

Historic Photo

Because historical materials are held in public trust, this category supports projects that manage and/or preserve materials for public access in museum and historic house collections. However, many historical organizations preserve and interpret state and local history through the collection of archival and library materials, such as manuscripts, government records, moving images, photographs, sound recordings, etc. The guidelines below address both archives and museum collections projects.


  • Standards and Excellence Program for Historical Organizations (StEPs)
  • All conservation treatments must comply with the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC)
  • Society of American Archivists (SAA) Standards


Many museums have examples of “culturally sensitive objects” in their collections. If a proposed project will involve such items, the applicant must consult with culturally affiliated or descendant communities about the project, and the intended use or treatment of the materials. Examples of culturally sensitive objects include artifacts or texts used in a spiritual ceremony or other ritual. Other examples include the Quran for followers of Islam, a family altar (XWM KAB) or shaman’s altar in Hmong culture, the Torah for followers of Judaism, human remains, burial offerings or other items within the purview of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
Culturally sensitive objects are not categorically excluded from Minnesota Historical & Cultural Heritage Grants, but in such a case the applicant must demonstrate that they have consulted about the proposed project with culturally affiliated communities, or describe how they will do so in the course of the project. Please note that this requirement for consultation about culturally sensitive objects applies to items from all cultural origins. It is important to remember that the vast majority of objects in ethnographic or archaeological collections are not “culturally sensitive.” Furthermore, it is important for the history of all cultural groups to be appropriately represented in exhibits and museum collections across the state. Applicants should consider the nature and origins of items related to the proposed project, and determine whether they would meet a common sense definition of culturally sensitive objects. If needed, MNHS staff can provide advice to applicants about whether objects would be considered culturally sensitive. 


Eligible projects include but are not limited to:

  • Archives:
    • Establishing an archives
    • Archives collection development, including: documentation strategies, surveys of archival materials not currently in repositories, appraisal projects, reappraisal and deaccessioning, documentation of groups or subject areas underrepresented in your collection, fieldwork and other collecting activities
    • Processing collections
    • Creating MARC records
    • Creating EAD finding aids
    • Developing a records management program
    • Archives policy development
    • Projects addressing new and evolving media such as born-digital records and photographs, databases, and social media
  • General Collections Survey: A general survey will characterize the general condition of collections by type. A survey also assesses your accession/deaccession and collections policies.
  • Collections Inventory: A collections inventory gives you an overview to guide your future decisions on accessions, helps you maximize limited resources for collections care and makes the best use of your collections in your programming.
  • Registration (Cataloging): Registration builds on an inventory, providing more specific, detailed information about each object in your collections.
  • Collections Storage/Rehousing: Collections storage/rehousing encompasses the purchase of shelving, cabinets, boxes, work tables, carts, ladders and supplies needed to prolong the life of your collections.
  • Conservation Treatment: Treatments should be as reversible as possible and must employ materials that are archival or known to be safe for conservation purposes.
  • Infestation Control: Infestation control includes identification of the species, source of intrusion, and the affected collections items. Proposal must describe how the solution meets current accepted museum standards.
NOTE: There is a structured grant option for projects involving developing a disaster plan (Develop a Disaster Plan). This simplified application should be used for projects whose scope can be accomplished within its $10,000 funding limit. 


In addition to items described as not fundable under General Information, the following items are ineligible for grant funding:
  • Creation of new monuments, sculptures, murals, or other works of art, as individual pieces or to add to a museum collection. If you wish to create new art that conveys historical messages, consider pursuing Legacy funding through the State Arts Board or your regional arts council.


In addition to items listed under General Information, the following documentation is required:

  • Submit a phasing plan detailing the timing, scope, and estimated costs of all phases of the project.
  • Submit organization’s collections or archival management policy
  • Submit required attachments for nongovernmental organizations applying for over $25,000.
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The Minnesota Historical and Cultural Grants Program has been made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on November 4, 2008. Administered by the Minnesota Historical Society.