In 2015 the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative (SCRI) became the co-sponsor, with FEMA’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.

Heritage Emergency and Response Training (HEART)

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

With funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Bank of America, HENTF has created this training opportunity for U.S.–based professionals to gain skills and experience in disaster response for cultural heritage. HEART combines the important principles of the internationally recognized FAC training model with context-specific information for a U.S. audience. The goals are to improve U.S. disaster response at the institutional level, strengthen existing 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.

In 2017 SCRI hosted the inaugural Heritage Emergency and Response Training (HEART) for 25 participants selected from a range of U.S. museums, libraries, archives, and emergency management organizations. Since then, HENTF has brought HEART to Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, back to DC, and most recently, to the state of Maine.


Contact the Heritage Emergency National Task Force at

Looking for other training content? Check out our Resources page for manuals, guides, and content that we use in our programs.

Heritage Emergency and Response Training (HEART) 2019 Call for Applications

Dates: December 9–13, 2019
Place: Washington, DC
Application deadline: October 8, 2019, by 11:59 pm Eastern

The Training Structure
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 December 9–13, 2019. Sessions will provide realistic, hands-on training in damage assessment, emergency documentation, evacuation and salvage, rehousing and storage, creating and maintaining a strong disaster plan, team building, and more. In 2020, a five-part webinar series will build upon the in-person training, reinforcing concepts covered in the December training.

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

Travel, Accommodations, and Living Expenses
There is no fee for participating in this training. Thanks to generous support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Bank of America, lodging in shared suites 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, all incidental expenses, and local travel. Please note that participants will also be expected to cover travel to and from DC. SCRI has limited travel funds available to subsidize travel costs; you will be able to request an amount once selected for the program.

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 management professionals who:

Note: To encourage applications from and greater engagement by the first responder and emergency management communities, SCRI is prioritizing requests for travel assistance from these professionals.

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. (Please note: limited previous training or no training does not disqualify you from the application process. If an applicant has no previous training, please upload a document stating this);
  3. A current résumé (two-page maximum); and
  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.)

Guide to applying through SOLAA

HEART 2019 Draft Training Schedule

HEART 2019 Application Call

Webinar Series

Launched in 2018, the Heritage Emergency and Response Training (HEART) webinars provide important follow-up information and should complement the material participants acquired in person as part of the HEART program. The following recorded webinars are available to all interested heritage emergency professionals. New recordings will be added to the library here and on our YouTube channel.

These programs are 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.