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Funding for museums & galleries

Eligibility

We support museums and galleries undertaking projects to improve the display and interpretation of nationally significant collections for the public. Grants are generally awarded towards refurbishing or creating new galleries and, occasionally, education and learning spaces.

The museum or gallery should meet all of the following criteria:

  • be operated by a registered charity or a local authority
  • be fully accredited under the Museums Accreditation Scheme
  • hold a permanent collection of national significance
    This is generally defined as holding a Designated Outstanding Collection (Arts Council England) or a Recognised Collection (Museums Galleries Scotland). Where a collection is not recognised under one of these schemes, or a national designation scheme is not in place, a strong case must be made for the significance of the collection within a national context.

Where the museum or gallery does not hold a permanent collection a clear case must be made for the significance of the exhibition programme and the work of the organisation within the sector.

The project should aim to produce one or more of the following outcomes:

  • Excellent interpretation of permanent collections of national significance
  • Better public engagement with and understanding of collections
  • Increased numbers of visitors to museums and galleries
  • Improved future sustainability of the organisation
  • Conservation of architectural heritage

What we don't fund

Examples of ineligible projects and costs include:

  • Purchase of land or existing buildings (including a building’s freehold)
  • Grants direct to individuals
  • Grants through conduit organisations
  • Overheads, maintenance costs, VAT and professional fees
  • Non-specific appeals (including circulars) and endowment funds
  • Costs of meetings, exhibitions, concerts, expeditions, conferences, lectures, etc.
  • Salary costs
  • Running costs, including vehicle fuel and maintenance
  • Film, websites or promotional materials
  • Repayment of loans
  • Projects that have already been completed or will be by the time of award

How to apply

We run a two stage application process.

Stage 1:

Stage 1 applications are submitted via our online portal for applications. Please note you will need to register an account before starting an online application.

Information that we need at this stage includes a brief description of the project, including the total cost, the current funding shortfall and the proposed timetable. It is important that the application comes with the full backing of the institution and a cover letter signed by the Chief Executive or equivalent should accompany the submission. View the list of questions asked at Stage 1.

Audited accounts for the past two years should also be submitted with the online application. The accounts provided should relate to the ongoing underlying operating activities of the organisation itself and not a related fundraising arm or charity. We undertake a financial appraisal of all applications, and you may be asked by our Head of Finance to respond to specific queries.

If your Stage 1 application is successful, we will invite you to submit a Stage 2 application.

Stage 2:

Stage 2 applications are submitted to us by invitation only and should be sent by email. Unless otherwise agreed, we require that at least 50% of the capital costs of the project are raised before submission (unless the project cost is under £50,000) and any necessary planning permission is in place. View guidance on what to include in a Stage 2 application.

Stage 2 applications are sent out to expert reviewers and if questions or queries are raised, applicants are given an opportunity to respond.  Applications are then considered by an expert Panel, who make recommendations to our Trustees.

When to apply

We run two funding rounds each year. The key dates are:

Round 1

Stage 1 application deadline: 5 January  
Stage 2 application deadline: 1 March
Funding decision: June

Round 2

Stage 1 application deadline: 1 July 
Stage 2 application deadlines: 1 September
Funding decision: December

Grants are not made retrospectively, and so your project must be ongoing at the time that a funding decision is made (i.e. June or December).

Background and case studies

Need to know

Who can apply:
Registered or exempt charity (or equivalent) or local authority

Location of applicant and project:
UK only

Funding covers:
New build, refurbishment and equipment to improve the display and interpretation of nationally significant collections

Minimum grant amount:
£15,000

Usual grant range:
£50,000 – £500,000

Match funding required:
Yes, if project cost is >£50,000

Decision dates:
June and December annually. Projects must not be completed before a funding decision is made

Wolfson funding programme:
Arts & Humanities

Ready to start application?

If you have checked you are eligible and understand the application process and timescale, you can start your application

Returning to your application?

If you’ve already started your application and are looking to return to continue the process, you can do so here

Contact us

Please contact us if you have a question about applying

Call: 020 7323 5730