Museums for America

To support projects and activities that strengthen museums as active resources for lifelong learning and as important institutions in the establishment of livable communities.

Related Programs

Examples of Funded Projects

Museums for America grants support projects and activities that strengthen museums as active resources for lifelong learning and as key players in the establishment of livable communities.

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.

Website Address

Program Accomplishments

For FY 07, the Museums for America grant program made 158 awards.

Uses and Use Restrictions

Funds can be used for ongoing museum programs, exhibitions, or activities, research, institutional planning, collections management, purchase of equipment or services, or other activities that support the efforts of museums to upgrade and integrate new technologies into their overall institutional effectiveness.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

All types of museums, large and small, are eligible for funding.

Eligible museums include aquariums, arboretums and botanical gardens, art museums, general museums, historic houses and sites, history museums, nature centers, natural history and anthropology museums, planetariums, science and technology centers, specialized museums, youth museums, and zoological parks.

Federally operated and for-profit museums may not apply for funds.

An eligible applicant must be: (1) either a unit of state or local government or a private nonprofit organization that has tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code; (2) located in one of the 50 states of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau; and (3) a museum that, using a professional staff, (i) is organized on a permanent basis for essentially educational or aesthetic purposes, (ii) owns or uses tangible objects, either animate or inanimate, (iii) cares for these objects, and (iv) exhibits these objects to the general public on a regular basis through facilities which it owns or operates.

An organization uses a professional staff if it employs at least one professional staff member, or the full-time equivalent, whether paid or unpaid, primarily engaged in the acquisition, care, or exhibition to the public of objects owned or used by the institution.

An organization "exhibits objects to the general public" if such exhibition is a primary purpose of the institution.

Further, an organization that exhibits objects to the general public for at least 120 days a year shall be deemed to exhibit objects to the general public on a regular basis.

An organization that exhibits objects by appointment may meet the requirement to exhibit objects to the general public on a regular basis if it can establish, in light of the facts under all the relevant circumstances, that this method of exhibition does not unreasonably restrict the accessibility of the institution's exhibits to the general public.

Please note that an organization which does not have as a primary purpose the exhibition of objects to the general public, but which can demonstrate that it exhibits objects to the general public on a regular basis as a significant, separate, distinct, and continuing portion of its activities, and that it otherwise meets the museum eligibility requirements, may be determined to be eligible as a museum under these guidelines.

A museum located within a parent organization that is a state or local government or multipurpose nonprofit entity, such as a municipality, university, historical society, foundation, or cultural center, may apply on its own behalf if the museum: (1) is able to independently fulfill all the eligibility requirements listed above, (2) functions as a discrete unit within the parent organization, (3) has its own fully segregated and itemized operating budget, and (4) has the authority to make the application on its own.

When any of the last three conditions cannot be met, a museum may apply through its parent organization.

Prospective applicants that cannot fulfill all of these requirements should contact IMLS to discuss their eligibility before applying.

IMLS may require additional supporting documentation from the applicant to determine the museum's autonomy.

Each eligible applicant within a single parent organization should clearly delineate its own programs and operations in the application narrative.

A parent organization that controls multiple museums that are not autonomous but are otherwise eligible may submit only one application per grant program; the application may be submitted by the parent organization on behalf of one or more of the eligible museums.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Public and private nonprofit museums.


Costs will be determined in accordance with OMB Circular No. A-87 for State and local governments. OMB Circular No. A-21 for educational institutions and other nonprofit organizations also applies.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

The standard application forms as furnished by the agency and required by OMB Circular No.

A-102 must be used for this program.

This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.


Application Procedures

As part of the president's E-government initiative, the federal government developed, a single Web site for organizations to electronically find and apply for competitive grant opportunities from all 26 of the federal grant-making agencies. Beginning with the 2008 grant cycle, the Institute required all applicants to apply online through Applicants who are unable to use should contact an IMLS program officer. The Institute no longer accepts mailed paper applications. For more information on the process of applying through, visit

Award Procedures

Proposals are reviewed by field and/or panel reviewers, staff, and the director.


November 1.


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

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Approximately nine months.


Appeals may be made in writing to the director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.


The Institute of Museum and Library Services may extend particular grants at the discretion of the director.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Awards will not exceed $150,000 and must be matched one-to-one, but may include in-kind contributions.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Projects generally may be carried out for a period of up to 24 months from the start date, but up to 36 months with strong justification.

Post Assistance Requirements


The Innstitute of Museum and Library Services requires interim and final financial and performance reports from Museums for America grant recipients.


In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133 (Revised, June 27, 2003), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $500,000 or more in federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in federal awards are exempt from federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133.


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

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Grants) FY 07 $17,400,000; FY 08 est $16,852,000; and FY 09 est $22,165,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

Between $5,000 and $150,000.

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, NW, Ninth Floor, Washington, DC 20036-5802. Contacts: Sandra Narva, Telephone: (202) 653-4634, E-mail: Stephen Shwartzman, Telephone: (202) 653-4641, E-mail:

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

See program guidelines. Criteria include but are not limited to: evidence the project or activities fit into and further the institution's strategic plan and mission; extent to which the project is of sufficient scope to enhance or expand institutional capacity in order to carry out strategic goals; evidence the project proposes efficient, effective, and reasonable approaches to accomplish clear goals and objectives; evidence that the applicant will effectively complete the project activities through the deployment and management of resources, including money, facilities, equipment, and supplies; evidence of sound financial management, coupled with an appropriate and cost-efficient budget; evidence that the museum's audience(s) will be better served by the successful completion of this project, and evidence of the beneficial impact the project activities will have on the institution, its staff, and its audience(s).qualifications and how they will be able to accomplish the necessary tasks for the project, especially if they are current museum staff with other duties. If hiring new personnel, describe the position in detail and the qualifications of appropriate candidates. If the project includes digitization of museum collections, complete Specifications for Projects Involving Digitization on pages 5.8, 5.9. Review Criteria: Evidence that the project personnel are qualified to accomplish project goals and activities. Extent to which personnel can commit adequate time to manage and implement the project activities. Extent to which personnel demonstrate appropriate experience and expertise in the specific area the project addresses. If project includes digitization, evidence that appropriate procedures will be followed.

Meticulon, a project of Autism Calgary Association in partnership with the federal government and the Sinneave Family Foundation, operates as a social enterprise that renders high-tech services provided by people with autism, leveraging their natural abilities at requiring attention to detail, repetition, and sequencing.

More Federal Domestic Assistance Programs

Emergency Community Water Assistance Grants | Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration National Training Center | Supplemental Security Income | Employment Discrimination_Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 | 7(a)Export Loan Guarantees |  Site Style by YAML | | Grants | Grants News | Sitemap | Privacy Policy

Edited by: Michael Saunders

© 2004-2024 Copyright Michael Saunders