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Please note, the Recognition Scheme has been undergoing a review. Normal business and scheduling of Recognition has been paused while the review is underway. The review has now been completed and recommendations submitted to the Scottish Government. We are awaiting a response from them and hope to be able to resume review and application cycles soon. Please contact our Museum Development Manager – Collections & Interpretation at for more information.

The Recognition Scheme celebrates, promotes, and invests in Nationally Significant Collections held outside of National museums and galleries. 

Read all about the Recognition Scheme. 

Find out more about the Recognised Collections. 


As a Recognised Collection holder, you’ll be part of a network of others who also hold Nationally Significant Collections. There’s opportunity within this network to attend meetings and learn from others by sharing knowledge and experience. 

Recognised Collection Holders have also identified the benefits of Recognition as: 

  • increased pride from the museum’s workforce
  • external validation and support from other organisations such as Universities or Local Authorities 
  • ability to leverage additional funding 
  • helped safeguard staffing levels 


Any Accredited, non-national museum can apply to the Recognition Scheme  You must be able to provide evidence that shows the collection you care for is nationally significant.

It’s the collection as a whole that will be assessed for its importance, rather than individual objects. 

You must maintain your Accreditation status throughout the application process and, if successful, on an ongoing basis. 

National vs non-national museums 

Scotland’s national museums and galleries are those: 

  • established by national legislation 
  • significantly funded directly by the Scottish Government 

Find out more about national collections in Scotland on the Scottish Government website. 

All other museums in Scotland are non-national museums, including ‘nationally styled’ museums. These museums are non-national but take a name that suggests national status, e.g., a title that includes the term ‘National’, ‘Scottish’, or, ‘Scotland’. 


Your application must clearly show why your collection is nationally significant. 

To do so, you’ll need to include: 

  • descriptions of the collection and its contents 
  • citations of publications that mention the collection
  • a copy of the current approved Collections Development Policy 
  • research and engagement use of the collection 
  • loan requests 

As part of your application you must provide letters of support (addressed to you) from academics, researchers, staff of other museums, and other users of your collection. Your supporter (s) should clearly state that the collection is nationally important and describe why. 

The application form provides more detail on what’s needed, plus space to include supporting information in the appendices. 

Partnership applications

You can also apply for Recognition of a collection you hold as part of a partnership. 

We define a partnership as: an agreed relationship between two or more organisations with a shared vision who gain mutual benefit from working together to achieve common goals. 

When making a partnership application, you must also provide evidence that all partners and key stakeholders: 

  • see the collection as a  whole rather than as unrelated parts – e.g. a single art collection on display across several galleries 
  • manage the collection together in a coordinated way – e.g. by making collective decisions about loans and acquisitions 
  • discuss the collection as a single entity spread across more than one venue in relevant policy documents – e.g. conservation plans 

Time commitment

Allow plenty of time for planning and gathering the  evidence you need to support your application. You’ll have six months to complete your application, but it’s advised that you gather the evidence required before beginning the process. 

Previous applicants have reported that the task involves significant effort, but pulling the information together was a valuable exercise. Evidence may also be useful for planning and supporting funding applications. 

Ensure you have the evidence you need to make your case for Recognition before beginning the application process. For example, if no recent assessment of the collection’s significance is available, you can commission one externally or undertake a methodical internal assessment. You should do this well before you submit a note of interest.


If you feel you have a suitable collection to put forward, applying to the Recognition Scheme is mainly a three-step process. 

  1. Write and submit a note of interest.
  2. Attend a one-day workshop on the application process.
  3. Submit paper and digital versions of your application by the deadline. (Up to four months after the workshop  – usually in early July). 

You must read the detailed guidance and instructions on the application form to ensure that you provide all information required. We’re also happy to talk you through the steps involved and give you advice on applying. 

To discuss the Recognition Scheme, Please get in touch with our Museum Development Manager – Collections and Interpretation at 

When to apply

 Please note, the Recognition Scheme is currently undergoing a review. Normal business and scheduling of Recognition is currently paused while the review is underway. It’s anticipated that this will resume by summer 2023. Contact our Museum Development Manager – Collections & Interpretation for more information.   

What happens next

We’ll confirm receipt of your application and check it within two weeks of the application deadline for any gaps in information or issues that might prevent us from reaching a decision. Our Collections and Interpretation Manager will contact you if necessary. 

You’ll also be told the date that the Recognition Committee will consider your application. 

Expert advisers are appointed to review and assess each application. Their report is used in the deliberations of the Recognition Committee to help inform their decision. 

The Recognition Committee meet in the autumn to discuss the applications. Each application will be considered in terms of whether the evidence provided is sufficient for a collection to be deemed of national significance. 

You’ll be notified about the outcome of your application the day after the meeting. A formal decision letter from the Chair of the Recognition Committee will follow within two weeks. Recommendations may be included with this. 

If successful, you shouldn’t publicly announce the Recognition Committee’s decision. This will instead be done at a celebratory event for any new Recognised Collections,  which the media will also be invited to. This will be held in November or December. 

Find out about our current Recognition Committee members.  

Notification of decision

We’ll let you know the Recognition Committee’s decision within two weeks of their meeting to discuss your application. You’ll be told when this is taking place after we’ve received your application. 

Successful collections: 

  • receive a specially designed plaque and certificate to display 
  • can apply to the Recognition Fund for up to £60,000 
  • will be named at our next annual announcement event 
  • are required to use the Recognised Collections branding 
  • are required to submit a status review report when requested
  • are required to complete annual returns 
  • should be open to collaborative work 

Find out more about the Recognition Fund. 

Download the Recognised Collections brand guidelines. 

Contact us

Contact our Collections and Interpretation Manager for any information or advice about the Recognition Scheme: 

Jacob O’Sullivan
Collections and Interpretation Manager
Telephone: 0131 550 4141

For any questions regarding branding, holders of Recognition Collections may contact: 

Eithne Ní Chonghaile
Head of Communications
Telephone: 0131 550 4140

Supporting documents