Skip to content

Museums Recovery Fund

Designed to support Scotland’s independent museums most at risk from ongoing financial challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. THIS FUND HAS NOW CLOSED.

About the fund


This Fund Has Now Closed


This fund has been made available by the Scottish Government to support Scotland’s independent museums at risk from ongoing financial challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. UPDATE: On 18 February 2022 the Scottish Government announced additional funding increasing this fund to £3million.

Independent museums in need of some additional financial capacity in order to operate and continue adapting in response to the challenges and opportunities arising from the pandemic will be able to apply for grants of a size determined by their operating costs.

Applicants will need to articulate the difference funding would make to their ability to operate successfully during 2022 and build their resilience, including through developing new audiences and activities.

It is important to read the following guidance carefully and then contact the MGS Grants Team to discuss proposals before starting to complete the online application. 

What we can fund

This fund is designed to be flexible, providing an element of financial support and security for those independent museums that are at risk as a result of the ongoing uncertainty due to COVID.

The fund can be used to support:

  • core operating costs to protect the minimum advised level of reserves* (equivalent of 3 months’ worth of operating costs). It is hoped that the fund will help to retain key staff posts and provide security that will allow for seasonal staff to be brought back and some frozen posts to be filled.
  • activity to recover visitor numbers and spend (whether new or returning) including marketing, special events and restart costs  UPDATE: The additional funding creates an opportunity for museums to deliver community focused engagement activity in 2022, building on the success of the 2021 Summer Programme. The fund can support the costs of engagement specialists, development of resources and sessional workers. We’re particularly interested in sustainable activity targeted at communities disproportionately disadvantaged by the Covid Pandemic and those most likely to experience barriers to engaging with museums.
  • activity that will assist the implementation of new business priorities emerging in response to the pandemic and which will increase resilience

Applicants can choose a combination of measures for support where a suitable need has been identified. You will not be asked to present fully costed project activity, though the overall amount requested will need to be justified. Assessment will focus on financial need for support and potential impact of the funding for your museum, taking into account how your learning during the pandemic has informed your plans for using a grant. Please see Assessment Criteria below for further details.

Applicants should outline how they intend to make use of their grant within 2022 and all successful applicants will have to fully account for how their grant has been spent by 31 March 2023 and report on the impact it has had for them. Grantees will not be able to carry funds forward in their reserves unless they can show that it is necessary to do so in order to maintain the minimum advised reserves levels of 3 months’ worth of operating costs.

* Applicants who wish to apply for support with their operating costs and, at the time of applying have 3 months’ worth of operating costs in reserves (or more), will need to demonstrate why they are at risk of depleting their reserves below this level during 2022.

Note for applicant organisations that have a wider remit than running a museum: (please refer to the definition of a museum in the section “Who can apply for this funding?” below) We can only fund operating costs and activity that relate directly to your museum function of safeguarding and making collections accessible. You will therefore need to articulate, specifically, the benefit to your museum activity.

What we can't fund

  • Collections acquisitions
  • Capital works project costs
  • Costs of setting up new museums
  • Costs incurred prior to the date of any award offer from us
  • Activity taking place after 31 March 2023
  • Recoverable VAT

Who can apply for this funding?

  • Any organisation that runs an independent Accredited Museum in Scotland. Local Authority, ALEO and University-run museums are not eligible for this fund.
  • Non-accredited, independent museums in Scotland that:
    • Meet the agreed definition of a museum: “Museums enable people to explore collections for inspiration, learning and enjoyment. They are institutions that collect, safeguard and make accessible artefacts and specimens, which they hold in trust for society.” MA definition, 1988(This means that we cannot give grants to museums where the entire or majority of the collection is in private ownership).
    • Operate a physical site/space/building which is normally open to the public for a minimum of 20 days a year.
    • Have collections with which the public are normally able to see and engage.
    • Are a registered charity or a formally constituted not for profit organisation.

Please note that non-accredited museums that have not previously applied to MGS for funding must submit an eligibility questionnaire before starting an application and must do this by 18 February at the latest to allow time for eligibility checks to be made.

How much can museums apply for?

  • UPDATED: The sum you can apply for will be determined by the size of your museum and this will be based on your average monthly operating costs. As a rough guide organisations can apply for a grant equivalent in size to 3 months’ worth of their own operating costs. However, larger grants will be considered where there is a clear case for need and impact. The MGS Grants Team are available to talk with you about the size of request it would be appropriate for you to make.

  • For applicants with a wider remit than running a museum we will be looking at the size of your museum function in relation to your whole operation to determine the size of grant that would be appropriate for you to request.

  • Grants will be awarded as exempted subsidy under Article 364(4) of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement. There is a ceiling of 325,000 Special Drawing Rights for subsidies provided to any one economic actor under this Article over a 3-year period.  Any Article 364(4) subsidies (or similar aid, including “de minimis” aid granted prior to 31 December 2020 under Commission Regulation (EU) No 1407/2013) awarded to the Grantee will be relevant if the Grantee wishes to apply, or has applied, for any Article 364(4) subsidies. Successful applicants will be asked to confirm that in accepting the grant offered they will not exceed this ceiling.

When to apply

The submission deadline for this funding will be 5pm on Friday 11 March 2022, however please note that all applicants should contact MGS regarding their proposed applications no later than 5pm on Tuesday 1 March 2022. Please see below for process of registering interest.

Please also note that, if you are a Non-accredited Museum that has not previously applied to MGS for funding, you will first have to submit an eligibility questionnaire by 18 February This is necessary because you cannot begin an application until we have declared you eligible to apply and it can take up to a week for the eligibility verification process to be completed. The eligibility questionnaire is available in the “Supporting documents” section below.

Decisions on funding will be announced by Friday 29th April 2022.

How to apply

Once you have read this guidance carefully, you must contact the MGS Grants Team to register your intention to apply no later than 5pm on Tuesday 1 March. They will be able to give advice on the suitability or your proposal and how to make your case for funding. You should email giving a very brief indication of how much you intend to apply for, for what purpose and flagging any specific queries you have. A member of the grants team will then get in touch either with a direct response to your proposal and queries or to arrange a telephone call to discuss further.

Applicants must complete their application online - please click on the link below to access our application portal and select the Museums Recovery Fund application form. Please note that you do not have to complete the application in one sitting; you can save the application form and come back to it later to complete it.

A PDF version of the application form is available in the “Supporting documents” section below. This is for guidance only, so you can see what questions you will have to answer before starting the online form.

Apply via MGSOnline

Assessment criteria

We will assess your application against the following criteria, using them to make our decisions about who to fund in what we expect to be a competitive round. It is therefore important that applicants seek to make as strong a case as they can against each of these. The application form contains guidance under each question about the kinds of things we are looking for in your response. Please read this carefully; it is advice about how to make your case as strong as possible in relation to these criteria and applicants who do not use this advice are unlikely to be successful.

  • Financial Need: if you have healthy reserves that would not be severely depleted if you have to cover your proposed costs without a grant, your application will not be prioritised. Applicants with substantial reserves are unlikely to be a priority for this fund.
  • Impact: the demonstrable difference the funding will make to your museum’s ability to operate successfully in 2022 and finish the year more resilient and stable.
  • Responsiveness: the extent to which your learning during Covid has informed your planned activity, with particular reference to review work and testing of ideas carried out with support from previous grant funding.

If your application is successful

  • This fund is designed to give museums capacity to respond and adapt during a year in which it is difficult to predict visitor confidence and trading income. We have therefore avoided asking for fully costed project activity in order to allow flexibility around the use of the funds. Recipients will be able to adjust their plans to spend the funds if needs and priorities change.
  • However, all recipients will have to account for their use of the funds no later than 31 March 2023 and crucially, report on the demonstrable impact they have had on their ability to operate successfully in 2022 and to finish the year in a more stable and resilient position.
  • It will therefore be important to consider carefully how any changes to your use of the funds will still enable you to report against these objectives and to retain financial and other documentation relating to the grant.
  • At intervals throughout the year, all grant recipients will be required to report to MGS on how things are going for them with regards to visitor numbers, and income etc.
  • In September, all grant recipients will have to update MGS on use of their grant, progress with the plans they indicated in their application and any changes that have been necessary.
  • This reporting will be vital to enabling MGS to understand how the funds are supporting the sector, what pressures museums are facing and how to develop future support.


All applicants should contact MGS regarding their proposed applications no later than 5pm on Tuesday 1 March 2022.

The Grants Team can be reached via email: