Museum Assessment Grant Program

American Alliance of Museums

Grant amount: US $4,000 - US $6,000 in in-kind support

Next anticipated deadline: Nov 1, 2018

Later anticipated deadlines: Feb 1, 2019

Applicant type: Museum/Library/Zoo

Funding uses: Training / Capacity Building

Location of project: Anywhere in the world

Location of residency: Marshall Islands; Micronesia, Federated States Of; Palau; United States; American Samoa Expand all

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Since its inception in 1981, the Museum Assessment Program (MAP) has helped over 4,600 small and mid-sized museums of all types strengthen operations, plan for the future and meet standards.

Through a one-year process  of self-assessment, institutional activities and consultative peer review, your museum emerges with:

  • a greater alignment of activities, mission, and resources
  • an analysis of its strengths, weaknesses and opportunities
  • a prioritized roadmap for improving operations and meeting standards
  • its practices benchmarked to standards
  • enhanced credibility with potential funders and donors
  • improved communications between staff, board and other constituents
  • expert advice, recommendations, and resources
  • increased capacity for strategic planning

Learn more about the impact MAP can have on your museum.

Assessment Types

Organizational Assessment

Reviews all operational areas. Upon completion, a museum is better prepared to operate as a 21st century museum with a strong understanding of core museum standards and good practices that support sustainability. This assessment places significant emphasis on strategic planning as well as ensuring operations and resources align with the museum’s mission.

Collections Stewardship Assessment

Focuses on collections policies, planning, access and documentation within the context of the museum’s total operations. The scope of the assessment includes collections care and use, acquisitions and deaccessioning, legal, ethical, and safety issues, documentation, inventory, and emergency planning.

If applying for the Collections Stewardship Assessment, MAP staff strongly recommends that the museum has a collections management policy or draft ready before the site visit.

Community Engagement Assessment

Assesses the museum’s understanding of and relationship with its various communities and the communities’ perception of and experience with the museum. It helps museums gather better input from their constituents, develop a more nuanced view about the community’s demographics and needs, respond to the changing nature of its audiences and incorporate these findings into planning and operational decisions. It helps museums form new collaborations and strengthen old ones.

If applying for the Community Engagement Assessment, MAP staff strongly recommends that the museum have a:

  • A formal and approved mission statement. An approved mission statement indicates a clear institutional self-image that can be tested against the community’s perception.
  • Previous experience with self-study, as that helps you manage assessment logistics, which need to involve members of your museum’s community and audiences.
  • An established process for institutional/strategic planning, ensuring a way of using the large amount of information that will result from your museum’s self-study and report.

What you get

MAP includes the following services, valued at approximately $4,000-$6,000.

  • The time, expertise, and travel expenses for one peer museum professional to visit your museum for 1-3 days and offer guidance and consultation
  • A written report of the Peer Reviewer’s findings and recommendations, with prioritized next steps and resources MAP
  • Self-Study Materials: a detailed workbook with questions and activities
  • 3 live webinars to help you through each step of the MAP experience
  • AAM’s recorded Museum Essentials Webinar Series
  • An essential set of books from the Alliance Bookstore targeted to your assessment type
  • Access to extensive resources, sample documents and customized reference services through our Information Center
  • MAP staff guidance and feedback
  • A certificate of completion

Your museum’s MAP participation is IMLS funded, but is not a grant. AAM does not disperse any money to your museum. AAM receives grant funding from IMLS to deliver this comprehensive program and service to your museum.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • To participate, a museum must:
    • be organized for educational or aesthetic purposes.
    • own or use tangible objects and exhibit these objects on a regular basis through facilities it owns or operates.
    • be a unit of state or local government or a 501(c)3 private, nonprofit organization. (If your museum is a federal institution, contact the MAP staff to discuss how it can still participate in MAP!)
    • have at least one staff member or the full-time equivalent, paid or unpaid, whose responsibilities relate solely to the museum’s services and operations.
    • be open and provide museum services to the public at least 90 days in the current or preceding year.
    • be located in the U.S., including Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau. (If your museum is located elsewhere, contact the MAP staff to discuss how it can still participate in MAP!)
  • Museums with Parent Organizations:
    • Museums that operate within a non-federal parent organization are eligible to apply and participate in MAP.
    • A museum operated within a multi-purpose public or private nonprofit organization such as a municipality, university, historical society, foundation, or cultural center may apply if:
      • it is able to independently fulfill all the requirements for eligibility listed above;
      • functions as a discrete unit within the parent organization;
      • has its own fully segregated and itemized operating budget;
      • has the authority to apply on its own
    • When any of the last three conditions cannot be met, a museum may apply through its parent organization, and the parent organization may submit an application(s) for one or more of its museums.

About this funder:

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