September 6, 2018


IMLS Press Contact
Elizabeth Holtan,

160 IMLS Grants to Museums Generate More Than $31 Million in Matching Funds
Projects to Focus on Creating Positive Community Change, Building Organizational Capacity

Washington, DC— The Institute of Museum and Library Services today announced grant awards totaling $22,899,000 for museums across the nation to improve services to their communities.

Through the agency’s largest competitive grant program, Museums for America, and a special initiative, Museums Empowered, a total of 160 projects were selected from 582 applications requesting $82,464,728. Institutions receiving awards are matching them with $31,180,215 in non-federal funds.

“These grants enable museums of all sizes and disciplines across the nation to make a difference in their local communities,” said Paula Gangopadhyay, Deputy Director of the IMLS Office of Museum Services. “This year’s Museums for America projects showcase the leadership vision and resourcefulness of hundreds of museums. The Museums Empowered projects aim to build up institutions’ staff and organizational capacity, leading to systemic change and organizational culture shifts in the field.”

Museums for America supports projects that strengthen the ability of an individual museum to serve its public by providing high-quality, inclusive learning experiences by serving as community anchors and essential partners in addressing community needs, and by preserving and providing access to the collections entrusted to its care. The IMLS website lists the 133 projects funded through this year’s Museums for America program, including:

  • The Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta will partner with the Emory Autism Center to expand develop and provide six Autism Spectrum Disorder sensory-friendly days designed for children ages 4-12. Through this project, the center will develop new relationships with groups serving students with ASD.
  • The Denver Museum of Art will launch the Creative Aging Project to provide in-community arts programs that advance Denver’s priorities for the well-being of older adults, especially those who are unable to travel to the museum either due to physical or mental challenges or a lack of financial resources.
  • The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe will implement a project to conserve subsets of its historic Pueblo, Apache, and Navajo collection of baskets, silverwork, and pottery. The museum will engage with external conservators, and consult with six Native American artists and cultural leaders, expert in the artistic traditions represented in the collections.

Museums Empowered: Professional Development Opportunities for Museum Staff is a special initiative of the Museums for America grant program supporting staff capacity building projects that use professional development to generate systemic change within a museum. The 27 recipient institutions and their projects focus on four categories: digital technology, diversity and inclusion, evaluation, and organizational management. Examples include:

  • The Indianapolis Zoo will create a Life Sciences Training Program for keepers in an effort to increase staff diversity. It will offer two two-year paid positions for college graduates to experience and learn about the care of collections from animal or horticultural staff. The new paid positions will help the zoo reach candidates who otherwise would not be able to participate in the zoo’s traditional unpaid internships.
  • The Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma, will build institutional capacity around evaluation, integrating it into sustained institutional planning and processes in order to better serve audiences. Team members will develop a shared knowledge of and skills in evaluation; conduct evaluation iteratively within existing institutional processes; build a strategic evaluation plan; and develop pathways to share learning internally across the institution and externally with the field.
  • The Rhode Island Historical Society will implement a professional development program for its staff and volunteers to build their knowledge and practice in using dialogue facilitation with different audiences and improve their readiness to work on re-interpreting programming, exhibitions, and collections practices. Staff members will participate in a three-day training offered by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience on fostering dialogue and civic engagement.
  • The New York Historical Society will equip staff members with the skills needed to more fully integrate digital content and high-tech learning tools in the institution’s education programs. A staff digital initiatives team will participate in special training to improve their understanding of and facility with content management systems, digital collections, and creative hardware and software. The museum will post a project evaluation on its website and produce a white paper, setting forth best practices for the development of new technology-driven offerings in museums.

IMLS is currently accepting applications for FY 2019 Museums for America and Museums Empowered grants; the deadline to apply is December 14, 2018. Check the IMLS website or subscribe to IMLS news releases for updates.

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.

Museums Empowered
Museums for America