21st Century Museum Professionals

To support projects that address the preparation of museum professionals for the future by updating and expanding their knowledge and skills.

Related Programs

Examples of Funded Projects

The 21st Century Museum Professionals grant program funds projects that address the preparation of museum professionals for the future by updating and expanding their knowledge and skills.

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

The program funded 10 projects in FY 07.

Uses and Use Restrictions

The program supports a range of activities, including professional training in all areas of museum operations and leadership development.

Examples of activities may include development and implementation of classes, seminars, or workshops; resources and activities to support the development of museum leaders; organizational support for the development of internship and fellowship programs; support for the enhancement of preprofessional training programs; collection, assessment, or development of information that leads to better museum operations; dissemination of information to museum professionals; and activities that increase or strengthen the use of contemporary technology tools.

Grants under the 21st Century Museum Professionals program are intended to affect multiple museums by reaching broad groups of museum professionals throughout a city, county, state, region, or the nation, and increase their capacity to serve their audiences.

Grant funds may not be used for construction, contributions to endowment funds, social activities, ceremonies, entertainment, collection acquisition, fundraising costs, or pre-grant costs.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

An eligible applicant must (1) be either a unit of state or local government or a private nonprofit organization that has tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code; (2) be 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) qualify as one of the following three types of organizations: (i) a museum that, using a professional staff, is organized on a permanent basis for essentially educational or aesthetic purposes; owns or uses tangible objects, either animate or inanimate; cares for these objects; and/or exhibits these objects to the general public on a regular basis through facilities which it owns or operates (an institution 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 institution exhibits objects to the general public if such exhibition is a primary purpose of the institution.

An institution that exhibits objects to the general public for at least 120 days a year is deemed to exhibit objects to the general public on a regular basis.

An institution 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.

An institution that does not have as a primary purpose the exhibition of objects to the general public, but that 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 otherwise meets the museum eligibility requirements, may be determined to be eligible as a museum under these guidelines); (ii) an organization or association that engages in activities designed to advance the well-being of museums and the museum profession; or (iii) an institution of higher education, including public and nonprofit universities.

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 a 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

All types of museums.


Cost will be determined in accordance with OMB Circular No. A-87 for state and local governments. Costs will be determined in accordance with OMB Circular No. A-122 for nonprofit organizations and OMB Circular No. A-21 for educational institutions.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

The standard application forms as furnished by the federal 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 Grants.gov, 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 Grants.gov. Applicants who are unable to use Grants.gov should contact an IMLS program officer. The Institute no longer accepts mailed paper applications. For more information on the process of applying through Grants.gov, visit www.grants.gov/GetStarted.

Award Procedures

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


March 15.


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

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Six 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 $500,000 and must be matched by a one-to-one applicant cost share. Applicant cost share may include in-kind contributions.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Projects may be carried out for a period of up to 36 months from the project start date.

Post Assistance Requirements


Grant recipients are required to submit semi-annual performance reports every six months during the grant period, and an annual financial report.

Final performance and financial reports are also required at the end of the grant period.


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

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Grants) FY 07 $2,074,017; FY 08 $965,000; FY 09 est $2,141,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

In FY 07, the average grant was $207,402, and the range was $29,848 to $423,214.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

See the IMLS Web site at www.imls.gov 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. Contact: Christopher J. Reich, Telephone: (202) 653-4685, E-Mail: creich@imls.gov.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

See program guidelines.

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Edited by: Michael Saunders

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