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Museum Development Fund

Apply for between £5,000 to £40,000 (or up to £60,000 for museums caring for Recognised Collections for projects relating to those collections) to support museums to make strategic steps towards becoming more resilient organisations in line with the aims of the National Strategy.

About the fund

This fund is designed to support museums to make strategic steps towards becoming more resilient organisations in line with the aims of the National Strategy.

Projects must demonstrate one of the following:

  • an enterprising approach – either with an innovative way of solving a problem or involving income generation
  • skills development (for staff and or volunteers)
  • advocacy – helping to raise your museum’s profile


Any organisation that runs an Accredited Museum in Scotland can apply.

We will accept applications for partnership work where the majority of the project benefits will be for Accredited museums. These applications can be accepted from:

  • Organisations running an Accredited museum in Scotland applying on behalf of a partnership or network; or
  • Non-Accredited organisations working in partnership with Accredited museums in Scotland and where the main benefit of the project will be for Accredited Museums 

We define partnerships as;

An agreed relationship between two or more organisations with a shared vision who gain mutual benefit from working together to achieve common goals

Arrangements where one organisation is being paid to deliver a service to another are not regarded as partnerships. We will usually expect to see a formal partnership agreement.

Please note that whilst there are no limits on the number of applications that one organisation can submit, there will normally be a limit of two awards from the Museum Development Fund per organisation per year. This does not affect an organisation’s eligibility to apply to, or their chances of awards from, any of our other funding streams.


Organisations running Accredited museums can apply for between £5,000 and £40,000 and up to 75% of the total project costs.

Organisations that care for Recognised Collections can apply for up to £60,000 for projects relating to those collections, and for up to 100% of the total project costs.

When to apply

There are two rounds of funding in financial year 2018/19. All successful applicants must start their project within 6 months of receiving the award and will normally have 24 months within which to complete their project. They must submit their final claim within 2 months of project completion.

Closing date Award date
27 April 2018 22 June 2018
12 October 2018 7 December 2018

How to apply

All applicants should contact MGS to discuss potential applications. We run a couple of surgery sessions each year where you can book a slot to discuss your plans and ideas in more depth, one to one with our Investment Manager. This enables us to give you more tailored advice. For the 2018-19 Museum Development Fund we are holding surgeries on 25 and 26 January, 22 and 23 February and 29 and 30 August. To book a session on one of these dates please click the link below.

Book your surgery place

You can contact our Investment Manager Gillian Simison for a shorter chat at any other time on 0131 550 4115 or at

Apply via MGS Online

Assessment criteria

Your application will be scored against how well it meets each of the following criteria and the score will determine whether or not your project can be awarded funding:


We will look at how well you have demonstrated the need for this project and the suitability of your chosen approach.


We will be looking at:

  • how well your project aligns with our priorities (enterprise, skills development, advocacy)
  • how well your project aligns with the aims and objectives of the National Strategy
  • to what extent the project will support your organisation to improve in line with your stated plans


We will be looking for:

  • appropriate references to standards
  • demonstration of best practice
  • demonstration of efficient practice (e.g. where relevant have you considered a collaborative approach?)
  • maximum potential impact (e.g. where relevant has appropriate marketing been planned?)
  • long term impact beyond the life of the project itself
  • sharing of the benefits and knowledge gained with the wider sector


We will be looking for evidence that your project can be delivered on time, to budget and to specified standards.

For Recognised Collection holders only:

We will also be assessing your application against the objectives of the Recognition Scheme.

What we can fund

We will fund activities that contribute to the aims and objectives of the National Strategy.

For organisations caring for Recognised collections we will fund activities that contribute to the objectives of the Recognition Scheme.

What we can’t fund

  • Core work or fill in for funding cut from core services
  • Like for like maintenance and replacements
  • Acquisitions
  • Projects that have already started, or will start before our published decision date (this does not include preparatory work)
  • Continuations or repeats of projects we have funded before, unless it can be demonstrated that there is new work taking the project on to another stage with new benefits to be gained
  • Salaries for existing staff unless it can be clearly demonstrated that the work is additional to their normal hours
  • Contingency exceeding 5% 


Case Studies

Information and inspiration on projects MGS has previously funded through the Museum Development Fund. 

Glasgow Women's Library - Collections Volunteering Programme

This case study is about a project to recruit and train new volunteers in response to an increase in visitors to GWL. You should read it if you are interested in empowering a diverse workforce, including volunteers, to increase their skills and potential.

Read more

 Leisure and Culture Dundee - Succession Planning 

This case study is about a project to underpin the foundations of a collection by bringing together over 150 years’ worth of dispersed information on a digital database. You should read it if you are interested in ensuring the longevity of a collection by raising standards in collections care and management.

Read More


Gillian Simison 
Investment Manager
Telephone: 0131 550 4115