The Connecting to New York's Collections program is funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and administered by Greater Hudson Heritage Network (GHHN).
In partnership with the New York Council on the Arts, the Albany Institute of History and Art, the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences, the Empire State Library Network (formerly known as the NY 3Rs Association), the Fenton Historical Society of Jamestown, the Historic House Trust of New York City, The Museum Association of New York, the Niagara County Historical Society, the Onondaga Historical Association, and the Oyster Bay Historical Society, GHHN is addressing specific preservation training needs in connection with the collection types identified as “at risk” in New York’s planning project: books and paper, photographic collections, digital materials, and historic objects. Training is being provided via a four-part webinar series; web-based “how-to” instructional clips providing instruction to organizational staff and to a more general audience who may have personal collections; a statewide, interactive cross-disciplinary knowledge portal website that will serve as a clearinghouse for preservation best practices and as a landing page for disaster preparedness plans; and a circuit rider mentoring program serving each of nine regions through free site assessment visits for collections care. This initiative will reach approximately 5,000 cultural heritage institutions in New York through October 31, 2016.
About the Connecting to Collections Program Each year, millions of Americans discover the cherished collections of maps, quilts, recordings, paintings, and countless other gems held in our libraries, museums, archives, historic houses, and gardens. From the schoolchild to the scholar, these priceless pieces of our past serve to enlighten, inform, and inspire. They help to give our communities a sense of place and identity.
But just as these chapters bear testimony to our rich past, so, too, they are being erased from our memory.
In communities around the country, from Bridgeport to Biloxi, museums and libraries face losing their collections for good because of neglect and everyday threats like exposure to light, humidity, abnormal temperatures, and infestation. A 2005 study co-sponsored by IMLS, called A Public Trust at Risk: The Heritage Health Index Report on the State of America’s Collections found that nearly 190 million objects in U.S. collections are in immediate danger and need our help. Once we lose these collections, we sadly cannot get them back, a possibility with profound impact for future generations of learners.
With this in mind, the Institute launched Connecting to Collections in 2007, a national initiative to raise public awareness of the importance of caring for our treasures, and to underscore the fact that these collections are essential to the American story. From special conservation grants to national forums serving local museums and libraries, each component of the initiative connects to recommendations made within the Heritage Health Index report. In short, Connecting to Collections is not just about saving objects, but about the legacy we leave to our own children and grandchildren.
In 1823, Thomas Jefferson wrote that it was "the duty of every good citizen to use all the opportunities which occur to him… or her, for preserving documents relating to the history of our country." This is what we hope to help communities do. In our nation’s collections we find a window to our past and a looking glass to the future. By conserving them and making them accessible to our communities, they become a storyteller whose memory never fades.