Skip to content

Museum Development Fund

Apply for between £10,000 to £40,000 (or up to £60,000 for museums caring for Recognised Collections for projects relating to those collections) for projects which will help your museum 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.

We will fund discrete projects that are additional to, or will help you to strategically develop your core work.

What we can fund

We can fund a wide range of activities. What is key for us is that your project will have a clear and measurable impact for your collections, audiences, workforce and/or your museum's sustainability in line with our National Strategy.

As a result of MGS funding:

Outcomes for Collections

1.      Collections will be better managed and cared for *

2.      Collections knowledge will be developed and made more accessible

3.      There will be greater awareness of Scottish museum collections both within the UK and internationally *

Outcomes for Audiences

4.      There will be a wider range of ways to access and engage with Scottish museum collections *

5.      Education in Scotland will be enhanced by museum programmes

6.      A more diverse range of people will be engaging with museum collections

7.      The health and well being of individuals and communities will be enhanced through participation in Scottish museum activity

Outcomes for the Sector Workforce

8.      The Scottish museum sector will be supported by a more diverse and skilled workforce

9.      Scotland’s museums will develop more collaborative relationships to share resources and expertise

10.   Scottish museums will contribute to the development of the sector through innovative and ambitious practice and shared learning *

Outcomes for Sustainability

11.   Scotland’s museums will be more sustainable because they exploit a more diverse range of funding sources *

12.   There will be increased awareness of the positive contribution museums make to society amongst stakeholders and funders *

13.   Scottish museums will become more resilient through stronger governance and strategic and financial planning

14.   Scotland’s museums will be operating in more environmentally sustainable ways

* These outcomes also align with the objectives of the Recognition scheme. Applicants whose projects are eligible for  Recognition Funding should ensure that their project delivers at least one of these six outcomes.



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 £10,000 and £40,000. There is no specific match funding requirement but in the interests of ensuring that our funds can support as many strong projects as possible, we are keen to see a financial contribution to the project from your organisation whenever this is possible. Match funding from other sources is also welcomed.

Organisations that care for Recognised Collections can apply for up to £60,000 for projects relating to those collections.

When to apply

There are two rounds of funding in financial year 2020/21. 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
23 April 2020 (5PM) 18 June 2020
08 October 2020 (5PM) 10 December 2020

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 2019-20 Museum Development Fund we are holding surgeries on 23 and 24 January, 20 and 21 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 Grants team 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 will deliver our grant outcomes.

We expect applicants to this fund to deliver outcomes across at least 2 of the 4 areas (collections, audiences, workforce and sustainability). However, beyond that, our interest is not in how many outcomes you deliver but in whether you have developed your project with the outcomes in mind. For example, a project that is focused on upgrading your museum displays for audiences will probably also present opportunities to develop workforce skills and collections knowledge. We want to see that you are making the most of these opportunities with our funding.

Do remember also, that we will ask you to measure and report back on delivery against your selected outcomes so do not be tempted to throw in ones that are tenuous and will therefore be too difficult to demonstrate.

  • to what extent the project will support your organisation to develop 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:

To be eligible to access Recognition Funds, your project must have collections at its centre and deliver against the objectives of the Recognition Scheme. The Recognition objectives are represented on our set of grant outcomes and the relevant ones are marked with an asterix*. Your project must deliver at least one of these 6 highlighted outcomes.

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


Our grants team are available via:
Telephone: 0131 550 4115