About Us
The American Institute for Conservation and the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation work together to promote the preservation and protection of cultural heritage. Partner with us to further that mission.

Held in Trust Project Mission

Held in Trust is a four-year cooperative agreement between the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation (FAIC).


The mission of Held in Trust is to evaluate the state of preservation and conservation of tangible and intangible cultural heritage in the United States.


  1. Consider the current state, future directions, challenges, opportunities, and resource needs for the conservation and preservation of cultural heritage in the U.S., including moveable objects (art, artifacts, decorative objects), archival materials, images, architecture, cultural sites, and intangible cultural heritage.
  2. Examine the intersection of cultural heritage conservation and preservation with issues of urgent importance in the world today.
  3. Identify future directions and resource priorities to ensure that our nation’s cultural heritage will be available for future education and enrichment.

The work aligns with the overall goals of A More Perfect Union, including an emphasis on identifying future paths. The outcomes of the project, expected in 2023, will guide work through to 2026 and following the semiquincentennial and in concert with America 250.

The project brings together a broad range of conservation and allied professionals, constituents, and communities, engaged in exploring the intersection of cultural heritage preservation with issues of urgent importance in the world today impacting the cultural landscape. There are nine areas of study explored by Held in Trust:

  • Field Investment, Infrastructure, and Sector Health
  • Climate Crisis and Environmental Impact
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility
  • Collection Care and Preventive Conservation
  • Philosophy and Ethics in Conservation
  • Education, Professional Development, and Leadership
  • Engagement, Communication, and Storytelling
  • Science and Materials
  • Digital Technology: Research and Practice

Key Findings

A vibrant and resilient future for conservation and preservation depends upon the development of new, highly collaborative paradigms and structures grounded in social justice, equity, and environmental action.

  • The existential threat posed by the Climate Crisis requires immediate action by all sectors of society, including professionals at cultural heritage institutions, collections, and sites.
  • The activation of DEIA practices requires the shifting of power, culture, ideology, and methodology throughout the field of conservation and preservation.
  • Collaboration between communities and practitioners must guide conservation and preservation.
  • Both public and private sectors must provide resources for cultural heritage preservation to support agency, attention, and access for communities.
  • Sustainability of the field requires enhancement of communication, community engagement, sharing of knowledge and resources, and advocacy.


Read the full report for further findings.