Training billboard image

In 2015 the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative (SCRI) became the co-sponsor, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Office of Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation (OEHP), of the Heritage Emergency National Task Force (HENTF), a public-private partnership created to protect our nation’s cultural heritage. Both SCRI and OEHP are committed to expanding training for cultural stewards, first responders, and emergency managers to better prepare them to work together to address emergencies and disasters that affect cultural institutions and historic sites.


Dates: November 13 – 17, 2017
Place: Washington, DC
Application deadline: September 15, 2017

Organized by: Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative (SCRI) and FEMA’s Office of Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation (OEHP), co-sponsors of the Heritage Emergency National Task Force (HENTF)

With generous funding from: The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Heritage Emergency National Task Force has created a new training opportunity for U.S.–based professionals to gain skills and experience in disaster response for cultural heritage. HEART will combine the important principles of the internationally recognized First Aid for Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis training model with context-specific information for a U.S. audience. The goal is to strengthen U.S. disaster response networks and connect participants to the wider international “First Aider” network of people trained to document and protect cultural heritage in times of crisis. Participants will learn to be proactive yet sensitive to human needs, respectful of local context, and, after completing their training, ready to support measures to protect cultural heritage in their own communities.

The Training
The course consists of three parts. Accepted applicants will be required, before the start of the program, to complete FEMA’s online course “Introduction to the Incident Command System (ICS 100).” Participants will travel to Washington, DC, for a week of hands-on training at the Smithsonian Institution from November 13–17, 2017. Sessions will provide realistic training in damage assessment, rapid documentation, emergency evacuation and salvage, rehousing and storage, crisis communication, team building, and more. Starting in January 2018, a five-part webinar series will build upon the in-person training, reinforcing concepts covered in the November training.

Expected Outcomes
At the end of the training, participants will be able to:

Travel, Accommodation and Living Expenses
There is no fee for participating in this training. Thanks to generous support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, travel to and from DC, local transportation, and lodging expenses for all selected participants will be covered. Lunch will be provided during the in-person training; however, participants will be expected to cover the rest of their meal costs and all incidental expenses.

Who should apply?
Selection of participants will be made on a competitive basis. The course team will select 25 participants from cultural heritage and first responder/emergency management organizations or agencies who work in the United States, U.S. territories, or Indian Country. Since the successful recovery of heritage collections is based on collaboration among many different types of professionals, the goal of HEART is to train a group with diverse backgrounds. Therefore both cultural heritage professionals and first responder/emergency management professionals are encouraged to apply for the training.

We seek heritage professionals who:

We seek first responders and emergency managers who:

How to Apply

All applicants must apply for the HEART course through SOLAA, the Smithsonian’s online application portal. Please do not send any application material directly to SCRI or HENTF.

As part of the online application process, all candidates are required to submit:

  1. A letter of support from their current employer (or a recent client) that endorses their participation in HEART and commits to advancing institutional preparedness and response efforts (or, for first responders and emergency managers, commits to collaborative efforts with the cultural community) informed by the candidate’s training.
  2. A list of past training or education involving emergency planning or response, not necessarily involving cultural heritage.
  3. A current résumé (two-page maximum).
  4. Answers to a series of questions about their experience with disaster planning in their current or past institutions, their reasons for applying to HEART, and why they believe this training will positively impact their current role in their organization’s or agency’s emergency preparedness efforts. (These questions appear in the online portal.)

If accepted to the program, cultural stewards will be required to submit a redacted copy of their institution’s disaster plan (whether up-to-date or not). First responders/emergency managers will be required to submit a redacted copy of their agency’s emergency operations plan.

The draft training schedule is available here.

To make the online application process as easy as possible, we strongly recommend you refer to the Applicant Guide for HEART 2017.

A PDF version of this Call for Applications is available here.

Contact the Heritage Emergency National Task Force at, or contact the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative at

This training is made possible by the generous support of:

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this training do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.