August 6, 2020

IMLS Invests $5.8 Million in Museum National Leadership Projects
Federal Grants Strengthen Museum Services for Communities Across the Nation

Washington, DC—The Institute of Museum and Library Services announced the selection of 12 projects from a pool of 60 applicants for the highly competitive National Leadership Grants for Museums program.

“IMLS is honored to provide funding to projects and research that can expand successful programs and contribute to developing sound processes and resources that support initiatives at institutions across the country,” said Crosby Kemper, IMLS Director. “Additionally, these museums are generating millions in cost share and developing strong community partnerships, which are important now more than ever.”

National Leadership Grants for Museums address evolving needs and trends in the museum field and contribute best practices, tested tools, and innovative partnership models for the entire sector. The projects will receive funds totaling $5,814,284, and the organizations receiving the awards are matching them with $4,507,724 in non-federal funds.

“This year’s award recipients represent museums and institutions of different disciplines and showcase exemplary leadership with their research projects, innovative adaptations and scaling up of tested ideas, proactive engagement with audiences in remote areas, and more,” said Paula Gangopadhyay, Deputy Director of the IMLS Office of Museum Services. “We look forward to the results of these projects helping many other institutions across the nation.”

The IMLS website lists all projects funded through this year’s National Leadership Grants for Museums program, including:

  • The University of Montana spectrUM Discovery Area will implement “Making Across Montana”—a project to engage K–12 students and teachers in rural and tribal communities with making and tinkering. In collaboration with K–12 education partners in the rural Bitterroot Valley and on the Flathead Indian Reservation, the museum will develop a mobile making and tinkering exhibition and education program. The traveling program and related materials will build schools’ capacity to incorporate making and tinkering—and informal STEM experiences more broadly—into their teaching.

  • The Museum of Science in Boston will work with the art museum community by adapting a successful collaboration among science museums to collect and analyze visitor experience data across disciplines. Collaboration for Ongoing Visitor Experience Studies: Art Research Team will bring art museum professionals from across the country together to discuss the value of and logistics involved in incorporating art museums into a collaborative system of collecting, analyzing, and reporting on visitor experience data.

  • The Computer History Museum will implement a project to test the utilization of machine-learning technology to make the museum’s digital collection content more accessible for patrons. The museum will use a machine learning software to assign metadata to the content, replacing the manual process currently in use, and create a sample search portal for user testing and to explore whether the technology is ready for deployment to the field more broadly. The project has the potential to make collection content more easily searchable online, allowing it to better serve existing audiences as well as reach new ones.

  • The Lindner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife at the Cincinnati Zoo will partner with Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium to implement a project addressing the reproductive challenges of managing sustainable populations of tigers, snow leopards, Amur leopards, and jaguars in zoos.

The FY 2021 National Leadership Grants for Museums Notice of Funding Opportunity will be posted later this month. The anticipated application deadline is November 16, 2020.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

National Leadership Grants for Museums