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Museum Development Fund

Apply for between £15,000 to £50,000 (or up to £60,000 for museums caring for Recognised Collections for projects relating to those collections) for projects which will help your museum to make strategic steps towards becoming more resilient organisations in line with the aims of the National Strategy.

About the fund

This fund is designed to support Accredited museums to make strategic steps towards becoming more resilient organisations in line with the aims of the National Strategy.

We will fund projects that will help you to strategically develop your core work in line with our grant outcomes (see below). We will prioritise applications for projects about;

  • Developing digital capacity
  • Re-engaging with communities
  • Workforce capacity and resilience
  • Building resilience
  • Responding to the climate emergency

Applicants should make sure it is clear how their project has been developed taking into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What we can fund

We can fund a wide range of project activity. What is important is that whatever your planned activity, it will have a demonstrable impact on the resilience of your museum(s).

Please note our priorities above and our grant outcomes below that cover four areas – outcomes for collections, audiences, workforce and sustainability.

All projects must deliver against an outcome for sustainability. Please note however that we will not assess your application on the number of outcomes you deliver against but on how well a project has been developed to deliver true impact. We are looking for projects designed for maximum impact, but most importantly we are looking tangible impact. If you try to link your application to too many outcomes for which you will never be able to show any measurable impact this will weaken your application rather than strengthen it.

As a result of MGS funding:

Outcomes for Collections

1.      Collections will be better managed and cared for *

2.      Collections knowledge will be developed and made more accessible

3.      There will be greater awareness of Scottish museum collections both within the UK and internationally *

Outcomes for Audiences

4.      There will be a wider range of ways to access and engage with Scottish museum collections *

5.      Education in Scotland will be enhanced by museum programmes

6.      A more diverse range of people will be engaging with museum collections

7.      The health and well being of individuals and communities will be enhanced through participation in Scottish museum activity

Outcomes for the Sector Workforce

8.      The Scottish museum sector will be supported by a more diverse and skilled workforce

9.      Scotland’s museums will develop more collaborative relationships to share resources and expertise

10.   Scottish museums will contribute to the development of the sector through innovative and ambitious practice and shared learning *

Outcomes for Sustainability

11.   Scotland’s museums will be more sustainable because they exploit a more diverse range of funding sources *

12.   There will be increased awareness of the positive contribution museums make to society amongst stakeholders and funders *

13.   Scottish museums will become more resilient through stronger governance and strategic and financial planning

14.   Scotland’s museums will be operating in more environmentally sustainable ways

* These outcomes also align with the objectives of the Recognition scheme. Applicants whose projects are eligible for  Recognition Funding should ensure that their project delivers at least one of these six outcomes.


What we can’t fund

  • Acquisitions
  • Projects that have already started, or will start before our published decision date (this does not include preparatory work)
  • Continuations or repeats of projects we have funded before, unless it can be demonstrated that there is new work taking the project on to another stage with new benefits to be gained
  • Full cost recovery
  • Contingency exceeding 5%

Who can apply for this funding?

Any organisation that runs an Accredited Museum in Scotland can apply.

We will accept applications for partnership work where the majority of the project benefits will be for Accredited museums. These applications can be accepted from:

  • Organisations running an Accredited museum in Scotland applying on behalf of a partnership or network; or
  • Non-Accredited organisations working in partnership with Accredited museums in Scotland and where the main benefit of the project will be for Accredited Museums 

We define partnerships as;

An agreed relationship between two or more organisations with a shared vision who gain mutual benefit from working together to achieve common goals.

Arrangements where one organisation is being paid to deliver a service to another are not regarded as partnerships. We will usually expect to see a formal partnership agreement.

We would normally only expect to make one award to any organisation in a round of this fund. However, depending on demand and the strength of the applications we may be able to accept more than one application to a round, if you are interested in submitting more than one application, please discuss this with our Grants Team.


Organisations running Accredited museums can apply for between £15,000 and £50,000. There is no specific match funding requirement but in the interests of ensuring that our funds can support as many strong projects as possible, we are keen to see a financial contribution to the project from your organisation whenever this is possible. Match funding from other sources is also welcomed.

Organisations that care for Recognised Collections can apply for up to £60,000 for projects relating to those collections.

When to apply

The closing and award dates for round 2 of the fund for FY2021/22 are listed below. Successful applicants must start their project within 6 months of receiving the award and will normally have 24 months within which to complete their project. They must submit their final claim within 2 months of project completion.

Closing date Award date
12 November 2021 (5PM) 10 January 2022

How to apply

Applicants should read the guidance on this page thoroughly, including the information about our assessment criteria below.

All applicants should contact MGS before starting an application. You can contact our Grants team at any other time on 0131 550 4115 or at

Applicants must complete their application online. A PDF of the application form is below in Supporting Documents but this is for reference only.


Apply via MGS Online

Assessment criteria

Your application will be scored against how well it meets each of the following criteria and the score will determine whether or not your project can be awarded funding:


We will look at how well you have demonstrated the need for this project and the suitability of your chosen approach. We will be looking to see how the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has informed your project.


We will be looking at:

  • How well your project will deliver our grant outcomes.

Please see details about our grant outcomes and the four areas they fall into above. Applicants to this fund must ensure that their project delivers against a sustainable outcome. However, beyond that, our interest is not in how many outcomes you deliver but in whether you have developed your project with the outcomes in mind. For example, a project that is focused on upgrading your museum displays for audiences will probably also present opportunities to develop workforce skills and collections knowledge. We want to see that you are making the most of these opportunities with our funding. 

Do remember also, that we will ask you to measure and report back on delivery against your selected outcomes so do not be tempted to throw in ones that are tenuous and will therefore be too difficult to demonstrate.

  • to what extent the project will support your organisation to develop in line with your stated plans


We will be looking for:

  • appropriate references to standards
  • demonstration of best practice
  • demonstration of efficient practice (e.g. where relevant have you considered a collaborative approach?)
  • maximum potential impact (e.g. where relevant has appropriate marketing been planned?)
  • long term impact beyond the life of the project itself
  • sharing of the benefits and knowledge gained with the wider sector


We will be looking for evidence that your project can be delivered on time, to budget and to specified standards.

For Recognised Collection holders only:

To be eligible for more than £50,000, your project must have collections at its centre and deliver against the objectives of the Recognition Scheme. The Recognition objectives are represented on our set of grant outcomes and the relevant ones are marked with an asterix*. Your project must deliver at least one of these 6 highlighted outcomes. Please note that we will prioritise applications from Recognised collections which address development areas recommended by the Recognition Committee.


Our grants team are available via:
Telephone: 0131 550 4115