Museum Grants, Resources and Tips
Success in applying for grant award begins right at the start with selecting the proper grant and positioning a museum to align with an institution’s purpose and goals. There is strategy involved! Every applicant should understand that no grant-making institution will make an award so that the applicant can fulfill its mission. They make awards when they see that an applicant will fulfill theirs. It makes all the difference.
Museums will find a number of solid options from government and corporate grants to private family foundations supporting the arts or cultural development in their region. Grant seeking is very competitive and funding organizations are confronted every day by an overwhelming array of applicants, all of them in need. As a result, just about every grant opportunity requires an initial Letter or Interest or Inquiry (LOI) before the submission of a full proposal. Some grants are only available by an invitation resulting from a review of the LOI. In the end, these letters allow grant makers a chance to review potential applicants without reading a ton of submissions that may not align with an agency’s or foundation’s goals. Some funders have a format for LOI submission, others leave it up to the applicants. At a minimum, all LOI’s should provide:
• A brief summary of the project
• The total project budget
• The amount being requested
Art Sentry provides museums (small and large alike) with the tools they need to help prevent artifact touches, improve visitors' experiences and much more. Learn how Art Sentry works
and why museums value our system
We also know that museums
and other cultural properties look for the best ways to pay for their exhibits and art security priorities. Take advantage of our growing collection of resources, tips and timely insights to help you access the world of grants so you can help your museum meet its goals.
You should also download our free Museum Grants 2023 Guide.
It has additional tips and details on many grant opportunities.
Where to Start
American Alliance of Museums
The Institute of Museum and Library Services
Other Places to Look
Regional Art Museum Grants & Associations
Grant Seeking Ideas
You should explore opportunities through matching grants for small and large museums. Here are a few resources:
Seeking grants has its challenges. For starters, you need to bridge some gaps. You likely have personal knowledge about your museum’s financial pressures. You’re also excited about what a grant will accomplish -help pay for an exhibit, reinforce the museum’s reputation, and impact thousands of lives. Grant-making originations need to make discerning choices about what they will get behind and whether potential worthy needs match their missions.
It's not just a matter of sharing a compelling need; the grant request must be persuasive. In their book, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, authors Chip and Dan Heath emphasize the importance of clear and memorable messages that people will want to act on. They detail six principles about making a memorable impact. Messages must be simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and involve stories.
Funders want to be assured that the money will be managed wisely and that it will make a difference. Museums can explain how a grant will help fulfill their own missions while meeting grant requirements.
Grants can cover a wide range of artwork and operational priorities, including:
- Community education
- Management of collections
Taking care of collections is critical if they’re going to be preserved for future generations. Grant seekers, for example, may want to invest in security measures to protect paintings, sculptures and more. Grants could be pursued to pay for the Art Sentry solution, which includes cameras and audible alerts, helps to protect artwork from costly touches.
Although foundation and government grants can be a major part of any museum budget, cultural properties also look to other sources to cover diverse costs. Individual donations, admission fees and investment income also come into play.