Museum Assessment Grant Program

American Alliance of Museums

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Anticipated deadline: Jul 31, 2021

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

Fields of work: Museums & Cultural Institutions

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 Show all

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Update: Special Opportunity for Previous MAP Participants!
Has your museum completed a Museum Assessment Program (MAP) assessment during the years 2012-2018?

Would you like to be considered for an all-expenses paid follow up visit with your original Peer Reviewer? 

Is your MAP museum eager to build on the progress you’ve made since your last site visit? Are you ready to take the next steps in implementing recommendations from your final report? Would you like peer guidance and help with strategizing?

In partnership with IMLS, AAM is pleased to offer opportunities for a MAP follow up visit. This year’s program has only a few spots left and your visit goals must be aligned with the criteria described in the Follow Up Visit Guidelines. Applications must be submitted between July 15-31, 2020

Since its inception in 1981, the Museum Assessment Program (MAP) has helped more than 5,000 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 with a site visit and recommendations, your museum emerges with:

  • Greater alignment of activities, mission, and resources
  • Analysis of its strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities
  • Prioritized roadmap for improving operations and meeting standards
  • 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
  • Preparation for core document verification, accreditation or reaccreditation

Assessment Types

AP offers five assessments. Choose the assessment that’s right for your museum.

Aspects common to all assessments:

  • Grounded in the Core Standards
  • Include Diversity, Equity, Access, and Inclusion (DEAI) issues as they relate to the assessment focus
  • Help museums look at both functional and strategic aspects of their operations
  • Use an online platform to move through modules with narrated presentations, resources, and required activities
  • Require an internal MAP team to lead the museum and be responsible for the bulk of the online work, required activities, site visit organization and action plans

Organizational Assessment

This basic strategic and holistic assessment helps a museum look at its operations primarily from the perspective of how well activities, resources, and mission align with each other, and with professional ethics, practices, and standards.

To help a museum have a solid foundation to build on for long-term health and impact, this assessment places significant emphasis on thinking, acting, and planning strategically; organizational alignment, capacity; leadership and organizational structure; risk management; and organizational culture. This assessment assists museums define key areas of operations or functions that need to be strengthened.

Collections Stewardship Assessment

This assessment focuses on practical, ethical, and strategic collections issues and activities related to the care and management of a museum’s collections per professional practices and standards. It also looks at the collections within the context of the museum’s total operations, plans, and resource allocation.

The results will help the museum—governing authority and staff—increase its knowledge, recognize and mitigate risk, take action, prioritize long-term collections stewardship issues, gain physical and intellectual control of the collections, and write polices and plans. This assessment will also include topics such as stewardship of and access to sacred and culturally sensitive objects; and decolonization of taxonomies.

Education Assessment

This assessment helps a museum evaluate how well it is carrying out its educational role and mission, meeting core standards for education and interpretation. In addition to looking at the museum’s current content delivery vehicles such as its exhibitions, tours, and programs, the Education Assessment considers these in context with the museum’s community, audiences, and other aspects of operations so the museum can be responsive, relevant, and trusted source of learning and educational partner in its larger education ecosystem.

The assessment also looks at the museum’s educational content creation and delivery from the perspective of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion.

Community Engagement Assessment

This assessment focuses on the museum’s awareness and understanding of, and relationship with, its various communities and audiences; and their perception of, and experience with, the museum. It looks at what roles the museum plays in its community and vice versa. And it helps the museum look at its culture and actions when it comes to diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion—all of which impact its long-term financial sustainability.

A Community Engagement assessment helps museums gather better input from their constituents, develop a more nuanced view about the community’s and audiences’ demographics and needs, respond to the changing nature of its audiences, and incorporate these findings into planning and operational decisions.

Board Leadership Assessment

This advanced assessment is for private non-profit museums with policy-making boards and paid staff which are looking for guidance on how to strengthen their institution and ensure its long-term success through more effective leadership-oriented governance.

The assessment looks at the board from three perspectives—people, work, culture—and helps them identify opportunities to move the museum beyond surviving to thriving. It also helps strengthen the board’s understanding of museum ethics and standards. (Note: Advisory boards are not eligible to participate in this Assessment.)

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 on a permanent basis for essentially educational or aesthetic purposes;
    • care for, and own or use, tangible objects, whether animate or inanimate, and make them available to the general public through exhibition and/or research on a regular basis at facilities it owns or operates
    • be a unit of state local, or tribal government; or a private nonprofit organization with tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code.
    • have at least one professional staff member or the full-time equivalent, whether paid or unpaid, whose responsibilities relate solely to the museum’s operations
    • be open and providing museum services to the general public on a regular basis (a museum that exhibits objects to the general public for at least 90 days a year fulfills this requirement). If a museum is not scheduled to be open to the public 90 days a year, it is still eligible to participate in MAP if it can demonstrate that it was open at least 90 days in the preceding year through a combination of scheduled days open and days open by appointment; travelling exhibits, digital exhibits and access to online collections may also be considered.
    • be located in one of the fifty states of the S., the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau; and
    • not be operated by the U.S. federal government. (If your museum is a federal institution, contact the MAP staff to discuss how it can still participate in MAP on a fee-for-service basis.)
  • 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
      • is an identifiably discrete unit within the parent organization
      • has the authority to function and operate autonomously within the parent organization
    • When any of the eligibility criteria cannot be met, a museum may apply through its eligible parent organization, and the parent organization may apply(s) for one or more of its museums.


This page was last reviewed July 04, 2020 and last updated July 04, 2020