Save America’s Treasures: Impact and Lessons

The American Architectural Foundation’s (AAF) Center for Design & Cultural Heritage is pleased to release an important new study of Save America’s Treasures (SAT) grants given to collection’s based projects between 1999-2010. 

This study was made possible by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. To complete the research portion of the study, AAF worked with Ithaka S+R. We would also like to thank our colleagues at the National Park Service, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities for their assistance and guidance throughout this process.

Although the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) accomplished a great deal in preserving structures and places since it became law in 1966, until the creation of Save America’s Treasures in 1999 the ephemeral nature of the performing arts and the fragility of films, paintings, prints, sculpture, books, manuscripts and other intellectual and cultural property were not a part of the NHPA’s focus. Save America’s Treasures built on the NHPA’s legacy and expanded its focus to become the first and only federal program designed specifically to honor and preserve our nation’s most significant structures and places, as well as collections, artifacts and artistic works.

“Want of care does us more damage than want of knowledge.”

Benjamin Franklin

Save America’s Treasures in its body of work captures the breadth, diversity and history of this nation’s achievements, democratic values and struggles. With the Mellon Foundation’s generous support, AAF and the Ithaka team were able to conduct the first assessment of some of SAT’s hundreds of collections projects. Although the abundance of stories and themes in these projects are too many to enumerate, the intent of this study was to capture crucial knowledge and perspective not only on what SAT has preserved, but also the impacts of SAT’s leadership and funding on the institutions and their communities.

As demonstrated in this study, funding for new projects not only will save important artifacts, documents, artistic works, and stories that might otherwise be lost for posterity, but will also allow access for all Americans to these pieces of our country’s rich cultural heritage.

More American treasures need saving and the Save America’s Treasures program is a proven funding vehicle to achieve these goals for Americans today and for generations to come.

To download the study, please click here.

Save America’s Treasures is managed by the National Park Service and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities in cooperation with the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The American Architectural Foundation, has been SAT’s nonprofit partner since 2014, and is on a mission to tell the stories behind the Save America’s Treasures grants. Working with the National Park Service and its Save America’s Treasures partner agencies, we are working to increase public understanding and visibility of this critical program and the role it plays in preserving our most significant cultural, intellectual and heritage resources.

Share | Print
Posted in: Center for Design & Cultural Heritage, Print, Save America's Treasures
  • Support AAF