Association of Independent Museums

Arts & Culture

The Association of Independent Museums (AIM) administers grants for museums to help AIM members with a variety of needs including training, conservation, development and exhibitions. There are different eligibility criteria and closing dates for each grant scheme, so please check each grant programme for further information about how to apply and the priorities for funding for each scheme. Current schemes are:

AIM Biffa Award History Makers Programme
The £1 million, AIM Biffa Award ‘History Makers – People who shaped our world’ programme, funds museums to create new exhibitions that will inspire the public through the lives and achievements of extraordinary, historical figures who have made a significant impact on the industrial, scientific, commercial or social history of the UK, shaping the world we live in today. The programme is a partnership between Biffa Award and AIM and it will run over three years, awarding grants to AIM member museums of up to £75,000.

AIM Hallmarks Awards
The AIM Hallmarks Awards are intended to help museums begin to use the principles in the AIM Hallmarks of Prospering Museums to improve the way they work. This can involve either review and planning, or taking forward new ways of working. Grants will be available in sums of between £5,000 and £15,000, and we anticipate that the average award will be £10,000.

AIM Training Grants
AIM Training Grants help to support member museums in developing the skills and expertise of their staff and trustees. We can grant aid fees for courses, conferences, museum study visits and mentoring placements with grants of up to £300. AIM Training Grants are open and applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

AIM ICON Pilgrim Trust Collections Care Audit
The AIM ICON Pilgrim Trust Collections Care Audit is to enable small museums to undertake a basic, professional collections care audit. The audits will be carried out by an accredited conservator to help smaller AIM members (museums with up to 20,000 visitors a year) identify key issues and priorities for their museum. The scheme will support museums to care for their collections more effectively and efficiently in the long-term, to meet the standards required for Accreditation and will give museums the option to undertake an audit before making a full application to the AIM Collections Care Grant Scheme.

The funded support will be £1,050 (£350 per day) plus travel and VAT if necessary to cover the costs of the accredited conservator undertaking the audit. Grants will be paid in full to the museum on agreement of the Audit and receipt of the conservator’s report. The grant pays for three days’ work, not all of which will be onsite at the museum.

AIM Collection Care Scheme
This programme has been set up to help small museums develop a more sustainable approach to the conservation and management of collections through improvements to collections care within their museum. The grants may enable museums to receive tailored, specialist advice about care of collections, or equipment to implement that advice. Funds may also support the training staff or volunteers to use new equipment, as well as its purchase, emphasising low cost solutions that can be easily understood. Better collections care supports museums’ long-term sustainability.  AIM are particularly looking for projects that enable a step-change in the quality of collections care that a museum can provide.

The maximum grant awarded will be £10,000. It is expected that the average grant awarded will be around £5,000. Grants of less than £1,500 will be paid in full on award; others will be paid 50% on award and 50% on completion and receipt of the conservator’s report. Applicants do not need to offer partnership funding although it will be welcome if they do. Bids may be made to part-fund larger schemes but not if that scheme is already being funded by the Pilgrim Trust.

AIM/Pilgrim Trust Conservation Grant Scheme
The AIM/Pilgrim Trust Conservation Grant Scheme is intended to help small museums with the conservation of objects in their collections. Accessioned objects in any media are eligible. Whilst we expect museums to have a conservation plan, the object does not have to be the most at risk in the collection. However, the reason for your choice must be made clear in your application; for example, the object might be planned for use in a temporary exhibition.

Project costs may include the conservator’s labour and materials, transport (including specialised packing) and reassembly. The grant will NOT cover any costs for your own labour, nor for any subsequent exhibition. he maximum grant awarded will be £10,000. It is expected that the average grant awarded will be around £5,000. Grants of less than £1,500 will be paid in full on award; others will be paid 50% on award and 50% on completion and receipt of the conservator’s report. Applicants do not need to offer partnership funding although it will be welcome if they do. Bids may be made to part-fund larger schemes but not if that scheme is already being funded by the Pilgrim Trust.

AIM Sustainability Grant Scheme
The AIM Sustainability Grant Scheme, supported through the generosity of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, is intended to help medium and smaller sized AIM members to improve their medium and long term sustainability. To be eligible, museums must have an annual turnover of less than £300,000 or fewer than 50,000 visitors a year. Funding is aimed at projects that explore increased and/or diversified income streams and/or develop organisational resilience. Examples of the type of project that AIM would be keen to fund are:

  • Development of business plans
  • Development of new business partnerships
  • Professional review of marketing strategies
  • Employment of a fundraising consultant
  • Governance review and succession planning
  • Employment of a catering consultant
  • Employment of a marketing consultant
  • Governance review and succession planning
  • Implementation of the recommendations from an earlier AIM Grant Scheme funded review

All applications are assessed by committees made up of members of AIM Council and other museum professionals. The committees score applications against the criteria for each scheme so please make sure you address these in your application. The committee are usually considering many applications at each meeting so please keep your applications as succinct as possible.

For more information on how to become an AIM member and how to apply please click here.

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