Museum Assessment Program from the Institute of Museum and Library Services

The Museum Assessment Program, supported through a cooperative agreement between the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the American Association of Museums, is designed to help museums assess their strengths and weaknesses, and to plan for the future.

Examples of Funded Projects

The Museum Assessment Program funds all types of museums, including historic house museums, science and technology centers, botanical gardens, and art museums.

Agency - Institute of Museum and Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of Federal support for the nation's 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute serves as a leader in providing services to enhance learning, sustain cultural heritage and increase civic participation.

Program Accomplishments

In FY 07, 111 museums participated in the program.

Uses and Use Restrictions

The program provides technical assistance for four kinds of assessments:

  1. collections management
  2. governance
  3. institutional
  4. public dimension.

Collections management assessment supports a review of collections use, planning, and policies and procedures in the context of overall museum operations.

Governance assessment supports an examination of the roles, responsibilities, and performance of governing authorities and advisory boards.

The assessment improves the ability of the museum's governing authority to fulfill its stewardship responsibilities and contribute to the success of the organization.

Institutional assessment supports an overview of the management and operations of the entire museum and helps the museum set priorities, prepare for strategic planning, and operate more efficiently, thereby improving its services to the community and increasing its base of support.

Public dimension assessment supports an evaluation of the way in which the museum serves its community and audiences through exhibits, programs, and other services, and communicates with its audience through public relations, planning, and evaluation.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

A museum located in the 50 states of the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands, Guam, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, The Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau, or the District of Columbia may apply for a grant under this Act.

A public or private nonprofit organization, such as a municipality, college, or university which is responsible for the operation of a museum, if necessary, may apply on behalf of the museum.

A museum operated by a department or agency of the Federal government is not eligible to apply.

Under the IMLS definition, a museum is a public or private nonprofit institution which is organized on a permanent basis for essentially educational or aesthetic purposes and which, using a professional staff: (1) Owns or uses tangible objects, whether animate or inanimate; (2) cares for these objects; and (3) exhibits them to the general public on a regular basis.

A museum must have at least one staff member, paid or unpaid, who devotes his or her time primarily to the acquisition, care or exhibition of objects.

The definition makes clear that the term "museum" includes aquariums and zoological parks; botanical gardens and arboretums; nature centers; art, history, (including historic buildings and sites), natural history, children's, general and specialized museums, science and technology centers and planetariums.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Public and private nonprofit museums benefit.


Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

Application Procedures

To participate in the Museum Assessment Program, a museum must contact the American Association of Museums (AAM), 1575 Eye Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20005. Telephone: (202) 289-9118. E-mail:

Award Procedures

Proposals for participation are reviewed by the American Association of Museums.


February 15.


Museum and Library Services Act, codified at 20 U.S.C. Section 9101 et seq.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time


Appeals may be made in writing to the director of the American Association of Museums.


Not applicable.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

MAP is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. MAP museums share a percentage of the cost of the assessment.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Not applicable.

Post Assistance Requirements


Participants submit a final report to the American Association of Museums.


Audits not required for application.


Grant and contract recipients will be required to maintain standard financial statements.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Grants) FY 07 $442,000; FY 08 $434,278; FY 09 est $471,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

In FY 07, 111 museums participated in MAP. Grants were awarded in the following areas: collections management (26), governance (11), public dimension (27), and institutional assessment (47).

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

See the IMLS Web site at for the latest program data.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office


Headquarters Office

Institute of Museum and Library Services, 1800 M Street, N.W., Ninth Floor, Washington, DC 20036-5802. Contact: Christopher J. Reich, Senior Program Officer; Telephone: (202) 653-4685; E-mail:

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

To participate in MAP, a museum must contact the American Association of Museums, 1575 Eye Street, N.W., Suite 400, Washington, DC 20005. Telephone: (202) 289-9118. E-mail:

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