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Small Grants Fund

Apply for up to £15,000 (or £10,000 for non-accredited museums) towards support for museums to get back on track with activity whilst still dealing with COVID-related financial challenges.

About the fund

This second round of the MGS Small Grants fund will continue to focus on supporting accredited museums to get back on track after an extremely difficult year and is now also open to non-accredited museums with an identified need that is a direct result of the Covid pandemic.  With finances hit by loss of income and continuing uncertainty about visitor numbers for the coming year we understand that there will be a wide variety of needs and have tried to make this programme as flexible as possible. 

This fund will therefore cover small-scale project activity, as well as resource and activity that is not project based, providing it will deliver outcomes in one or more of these areas:

  • Building organisational resilience
  • Re-engaging with audiences
  • Critical repairs and maintenance
  • Environmental sustainability


Who can apply for this funding?

Any organisation that runs an Accredited Museum in Scotland. 

Non-accredited, independent museums in Scotland that: 

  • Meet the agreed definition of a museum: “Museums enable people to explore collections for inspiration, learning and enjoyment. They are institutions that collect, safeguard and make accessible artefacts and specimens, which they hold in trust for society.” MA definition, 1988 
  • Operate a physical site/space/building which is normally open to the public for a minimum of 20 days a year. 
  • Have collections with which the public are normally able to see and engage. 
  • Be a registered charity or a formally constituted not for profit organisation. 

Please note that eligibility has been extended to non-accredited museums for the current round of Small Grants due to the exceptional circumstances resulting from the ongoing impact of Covid-19. Non-Accredited applicants will need to make a very clear case that their proposal will address a need that has arisen because of the direct impact of the Covid pandemic. The amount of funding allocated to non-Accredited museums will be capped as we are required to prioritise Accredited museums.  

We will need to verify that your museum meets the above criteria by asking you to complete an eligibility questionnaire. Some non-Accredited museums completed this last year in order to apply for our Covid-19 emergency funds. If that is the case and we confirmed that you were eligible, you will not need to do this again – you can start an application straight away.

Non-Accredited museums that have not completed an eligibility questionnaire will need to do so before they can start an application. The form is available in the Supporting Documents section at the bottom of this page of the fund page on our website.

If your organisation has a wider remit than that of running a museum you can only apply for costs relating directly to your museum activity. 

Partnership applications are welcome and we can accept applications from formally constituted groups of museums with their own bank accounts.

What we can fund

This fund is designed to be flexible so that it can respond to the changing needs of the sector as it starts to recover from the impacts of the pandemic. It will support small scale project activity, but it can also support resource and activity that is not project based, providing they will have impact in any of the following areas:

Activity that will build operational resilience. This could cover costs such as:

  • staff and volunteer training;
  • specialist support to review areas of your operation;
  • implementation of proposals to diversify income or to improve income generation from retail or other opportunities;
  • any other activity that aims to leave your museum in a better position to cope with changed financial or operational circumstances.

Activity to re-engage with communities and audiences. This could cover costs such as:

  • resources and equipment for engagement projects;
  • updates and improvements to existing displays;
  • new exhibitions or events;
  • improving digital access;
  • marketing campaigns;
  • audience development research;
  • or other ways of increasing or improving engagement with your collections.

Critical repairs and maintenance that you cannot afford to carry out. This could cover costs such as:

  • urgent repairs to buildings and facilities;
  • urgent collections conservation;
  • improvements to collections storage and management.

Activity to improve environmental sustainability. This could cover costs such as:

  • upgrading heating or lighting to more energy efficient systems;
  • installing solar panels, air source heat pumps or other plant that will improve energy performance and reduce running costs;
  • installing double glazing, insulation or other measures to reduce energy loss.

What we can't fund

  • Core operating costs
  • Full cost recovery
  • Acquisitions of collections
  • Work that has already started, or will start before our published decision date, other than preparatory work to identify scope
  • Any more than 5% contingency


  • Accredited Museums: You can apply for any amount between £300 and £15,000.
  • Non-accredited Museums: You can apply for any amount between £300 and £10,000.
  • You can only submit one application for this deadline and a maximum of two applications in 2021/22.
  • The funding can cover activity for up to one year from the date of the award but, if you have a clear rationale for needing slightly longer than 12 months, please discuss this with us before starting your application.
  • You can apply for 100% of the total cost, although we are keen to see a financial contribution wherever possible to ensure that limited funds can support as many museums as possible.

When to apply

The submission deadline for the latest round of funding will be 5pm, Friday 3 September. 

Decisions on awards will be made by 15 October. 

How to apply

Read the applicant guidance and contact the Grants Team to discuss your proposal before starting to complete an application.  Please note that non-accredited museums that have not already passed MGS eligibility checks must submit an eligibility questionnaire and wait to receive confirmation before an application can be started. It may take up to 5 working days to assess your eligibility so please ensure you leave time for this to be completed in time for you to meet the deadline for the fund.  

The eligibility questionnaire for non-accredited museums, applicant guidance and a PDF version of the application form (for reference only - applicants must complete their application online) can be found in Supporting Documents at the bottom of this page.

Apply via MGS Online

Assessment criteria

Please see the applicant guidance for full information on what questions we will ask, but you should be aware that we will be assessing your application based on:

  • Financial need: if you have sufficient funds to cover the proposed costs yourself, your application will not be prioritised.
  • How well you can show that your proposal is based on evidence of need and support.  For non-accredited museums only, this need must be clearly linked to the direct impact of the Covid pandemic. 
  • How well your proposal will deliver a positive impact in any one of the areas listed above under “what we will fund”. Please note that potential to deliver strong impact in one area is more important than trying to deliver little impact in many areas.
  • Accuracy of budget, with all costs based on quotes or other evidence.
  • Your delivery plan, which should be sufficiently detailed and achievable.
  • Where relevant, how your proposal builds on any previous funding you may have received from us.

The applicant guidance will be made available at the bottom of this page when the fund opens for applications on 30 April.


Our Grants Team are available on:
Telephone: 0131 550 4115