The NIHC will reunite existing collections owned by the Government of Nunavut (GN), co-owned by the GN and IHT, and by IHT and Parks Canada, in Iqaluit. These collections include approximately 140,0000 objects moved in 2016/2017 from the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre (PWNHC) to the Canadian Museum of Nature (CMN, pre-2012 excavated archaeological material, historical objects, and natural history collections) and approximately 7,400 works of art on paper, textiles, paintings, and sculptures moved to the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG), where many are now exhibited in the Qaumajuq Inuit Art Centre. The Franklin Collection, consisting of artifacts excavated from the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, is currently stored in Ottawa; some of it will be exhibited in the Nattilik Heritage Centre in Gjoa Haven. The GN Archives are stored in Iqaluit.

Planning for the NIHC includes estimates of future collections growth. IHT completed a study of the collections size and preservation requirements for storage and conservation areas to meet both current needs and projected growth over the next 25 years. It is anticipated that the current collection will grow through donations, purchases, and repatriations. Preservation Recommendations for the Nunavut Inuit Heritage Centre Collections.

The absence of a dedicated heritage centre, the recent collections moves, and the absence of digital records put parts of the collections at risk of loss and deterioration. The NIHC will be designed and built to preserve these collections and make them accessible to Nunavut Inuit. The design of the NIHC building will maximize energy conservation, prioritize low maintenance for sustainability and meet the criteria established by the Department of Canadian Heritage, as well as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards for Museums, Galleries, Archives and Libraries to maintain required temperature and relative humidity levels, withstand the effects of climate change, and be designated a Category A facility.