AIM Hallmarks Awards: Final Round Now Open For Applications

The third and final round of the AIM Hallmarks Awards is now open for AIM members in England and Wales with applications closing on 15 May 2017. Offering grants of between £5,000 and £15,000, the AIM Hallmarks Awards help AIM member museums and heritage sites to begin to use the principles in the AIM Hallmarks to improve the way they work.

This can involve either review and planning, or taking forward new ways of working. For example, in Round 1 of the AIM Hallmarks Awards, The Lightbox Museum and Art Gallery in Woking used their grant to work more effectively with millennials, which you can read about HERE. Organisational review projects funded include one for Amgeudffa Pontypool Museum.

LB large

The Lightbox Museum and Art Gallery in Woking used their grant to work more effectively with millennials (Photo credit: The Lightbox)

Work funded by an AIM Hallmarks Award must be demonstrably central to an applicant museum’s organisational development and closely linked to the museum’s strategic plan. Where possible, we are keen for projects to innovate, trialling approaches or ways of working which are either wholly new to the museum sector, or new to museums of a particular kind or size. In Round 2, for example, the Royal West of England Academy received funding to trial offering executive training away days to corporate clients as a means of income generation.

Helen Wilkinson, AIM Assistant Director, said: “We’re really open to a wide range of proposals – either for doing some serious thinking about the future of your museum, or testing out an idea you already have. We’re looking for fresh thinking and energy above all else – could you use a Hallmark Award to lay the foundations for a new way of working?”

Who Has Already Benefitted From An AIM Hallmarks Award?

In the second round of awards, five were made to museums and heritage sites in England, and three to museums in Wales.

Successful applicants in England were:

Radstock Museum in Somerset, awarded £12,000 for a project to remodel the main permanent displays in the gallery to reflect its name change to Somerset Coalfield Life at Radstock Museum. In doing so, the museum hopes to attract a wider and more diverse audience and enhance their learning offer to engage schools.

Seven Stories and the Mary Rose Trust both awarded funding for in house programmes of leadership development for staff (£8720 for Mary Rose Trust and £11,660 for Seven Stories).

Priest’s House Museum, Dorset, awarded £10,000 for an organisational review.

Brantwood Trust, awarded £7,842.00 for a project to share Ruskin’s ideas with a wider audience through collections digitisation and videos for its website.

Royal West of England Academy, awarded £9,060.00 for a project to develop packages of executive development training, using the museum’s collections, as a means of income generation.


Priest’s House Museum, Dorset, awarded £10,000 for an organisational review

And in Wales:

Cardiff Story Museum awarded £8000 for a marketing review, to enable it to improve its financial resilience.

Rhayader Museum and Gallery, awarded £10,590 for a project to document local town and country shows, using volunteers in innovative ways.

Pontypool Museum, awarded £5000 towards the costs of an organisational review.

How To Apply

AIM Hallmarks Awards in England

AIM Hallmarks Awards in Wales

The third round of the AIM Hallmarks Awards is now open for AIM members in England and Wales with applications closing on 15 May 2017.

If you are considering making an application to the final round of the Hallmarks Awards, guidance notes to support your application are available here AIM Hallmarks Awards

Or you can email Helen Wilkinson on






Grants For AIM Conference From The Federation Of Museums & Art Galleries Of Wales

The Federation of Museums & Art Galleries of Wales is offering grants under its Training and Conference Grant programme to enable museum staff (paid or volunteers) in Wales to attend the Association of Independent Museum 2017 Conference.

The 2017 AIM Conference will be held at The Historic Dockyard, Chatham, from 24 – 26 June; details here: AIM National Conference 2017


AIM National Conference an ideal opportunity to mix with other staff and volunteers from independent museums

*Grants are available up to 90% of cost per person to contribute towards conference fees, travel, the conference dinner and two nights’ accommodation.

*First come first served (limited funding available)

*Priority to independent museums, and museum mentors / museum development officers

*Not normally more than 2 per museum (in addition to a museum mentor)

*Early bird discounts on conference fees for AIM members before 28 April. The Federation of Museums & Art Galleries of Wales expect you to apply for these rates.

This is an ideal opportunity to mix with other staff and volunteers in independent museums. It is a very friendly conference, and focuses on practical issues presented by people who have done it. Those who went in previous years found it very useful.

Note: other Federation Grant eligibility rules apply. The application form can be downloaded here:


Please direct any queries to John Marjoram, Federation Development Officer at: 




Investing in museums’ futures: AIM Hallmarks Fund

The AIM Hallmarks Investment Fund is now open for applications. The closing date for the first round is 5 February 2016. The fund is open to AIM member, Accredited (or working towards Accreditation) museums in England and will make investments of between £5000 and £15000 to help museums develop in line with the AIM Hallmarks.

The investment fund is part of AIM’s Hallmarks and Investing in Independence programme which is funded by Arts Council England. The programme also includes in-depth training programmes, which are also currently open for applications, online resources which will be developed over the next two years and a programme to support museum boards and trustees to be launched in 2016. Together these elements can help museums focus on the key issues which will help them prosper and thrive – as outlined in the Hallmarks.

The Investment Fund will support museums to develop in any element of the Hallmarks: purpose; leadership and culture; governance; innovation and risk; awareness and networks, visitor focus, collections and finance.

Work funded by an AIM Hallmarks Award must be demonstrably central to an applicant museum’s organisational development, and closely linked to the museum’s strategic plan. Museums must be able to show that the work undertaken using the grant could not have taken place without external support.

We are keen to support projects which have the potential to offer helpful lessons to other museums and that are genuinely new for the applicant organisation. This might involve trialling approaches or ways of working which are either wholly new to the museum sector, or new to museums of a particular kind or size.

More information about the Investment fund can be found on the AIM Website, along with the application form and guidance notes. Museums are invited to talk to Helen Wilkinson before making an application – please contact her at

AIM October E-News Now Online

The AIM October E-News is now available to read online – please visit the AIM Website: AIM October E-News.

News articles this month include:

* AIM Launches New Guidance for Museum Archive Management

*AIM Hallmarks and Investing in Independence Programme – Updates

*Funding opportunities

*Upcoming Conferences, events and seminars

*News about Holocaust Memorial Day, Trustees Week and Arts Marketing Association

catch up

Catch up with the latest AIM news, funding opportunities & events

If you haven’t signed up to the AIM E-News and would like it sent direct to your inbox, please sign up here: AIM E-News Sign Up

If you have any news or events that you would like considered for inclusion in future editions, please email:

AIM Conservation Grants – Next Round Closes September 30

AIM members from small and medium size museums are eligible to apply to the AIM Preventive Conservation Grant Scheme and the AIM Conservation Grant Scheme. Both schemes are generously supported by The Pilgrim Trust and the next round of applications closes on September 30th 2015.

Since these grant schemes started, hundreds of AIM member museums and heritage sites have benefited, and both schemes have been set up to help develop a more sustainable approach to the conservation and management of collections. To check your eligibility and for further information, please see the AIM website: AIM Grant Schemes

We like to showcase previous examples of successful applicants, so that anyone thinking of applying can see the type of conservation work that AIM has previously funded. The following is a report from Colonel A S Taylor, Honorary Curator at The Herefordshire Light Infantry Museum, on how an AIM Conservation Grant of £1684 supported the conservation of a painting.

The Herefordshire Light Infantry Museum

‘Advance at Suvla’ by Charles Dixon, courtesy of The Herefordshire Regimental Museum

The Herefordshire Regimental Museum exists in Hereford to maintain the spirit and ethos of the Regiment. The Herefords (as they were known) were a Territorial Regiment, mobilised for action in 1914 and 1939. The Herefords, comprising a single Battalion, were mobilised in August 1914 and had their baptism of fire at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli; the action depicted in this painting ‘Advance at Suvla’.

The Battalion performed well and their actions were brought to the attention of the Commander in Chief, Sir Ian Hamilton who specifically mentioned them in his despatches. Most of the men serving in the Battalion at the time were from Herefordshire and many of the families of those soldiers still live in the county and some are associated with the Museum and the Reserve Forces.

The painting by Charles Dixon, a painter of some note, was commissioned soon after the action by the County’s Territorial Forces Association to commemorate the event. Through the years the painting has become synonymous with the Herefordshire Regiment; it is effectively the Regiment’s and Museum’s ‘trademark’ and is recognised throughout the County. The painting forms a significant part of the Museum’s collection and hangs in the Drill Hall at Suvla Barracks.

As part of the centenary commemorations it is planned to hold, amongst other events an Open Day (Suvla100), which is fully supported by The Herefordshire First World War Centenary Committee (HFWWCC). The plan includes the display of 100 medals groups of men from the Herefords that served at Gallipoli. The Advance at Suvla painting will also be prominent during this period and will make a significant contribution to the commemorations.

The Trustees determined that the painting should be restored and conserved prior to the centenary; from records held for the first time since it was painted in 1921. Advice was sought from the County’s Museum Services staff and a plan put in place. Britton and Storey, ICON registered conservators were selected to carry out the work and conducted a detailed survey.

The Museum is totally volunteer run and receives no formal funding, thus the cost of the task was a major consideration. Discussions with The Friends of Herefordshire Museums and Arts secured a grant in support of this project of £500. AIM agreed to fund the balance the project cost: £1684.

The work is now complete and the painting hangs in pride of place in the Drill Hall, new (painting friendly) lighting has been installed and the painting looks stunning and will certainly be a most significant part of the commemorations; it has already drawn considerable complimentary comment. The Museum Trustees are most grateful for the generous grant received from AIM which made the conservation possible.

Colonel A S Taylor

Honorary Curator

The Herefordshire Light Infantry Museum

John Ellerman Foundation: Grants to Regional Museums and Galleries Fund

Congratulations to the AIM members who received grants in the second round. The third round of grants from the John Ellerman Foundation is now open and applications close 9th October. The following is from a press release issued by the John Ellerman Foundation.

John Ellerman Foundation is pleased to announce the results of the second round of grants to regional museums and galleries. Six grants totalling £539,062 were made to a range of institutions at different stages in their lifecycle. They look after a rich mix of collections, from natural history, fine art and social history, serving rural and urban areas.  A full list is on the next page.

The fund responds to the economic and other pressures faced by cultural institutions outside London. It aims to strengthen regional museums and galleries, by supporting curatorial development to attract a broader public. We were looking for proposals with new ways of working for curators, evidence of strong partnerships and a lasting legacy.

Lakeland Arts, Cumbria, received  £90,000  in Round 2

Lakeland Arts, Cumbria, received £90,000 in Round 2

Trustees were delighted with the response. We received 54 very good applications, compared to 39 last year (c.30% increase). The longer lead time and greater awareness of the Fund is likely to have contributed to the surge in proposals.

The panel found it difficult to choose between some strong applications, and eventually visited six. The visits were highly enjoyable and we met some stimulating people.  The calibre of work was such that all were awarded a grant. The success rate at the initial stage was 13% (just under one in eight).

We continue to benefit from the specialist advice of two outside experts. There remains an annual application window, rather than accepting proposals throughout the year as with our other, responsive grantmaking.  This means that we could consider the applications and grants as a group, which helped shape the final portfolio.

We have commissioned an evaluation of the programme in order to learn from this new approach. This aims to capture the grantees’ collective experience of delivering the funded work and identify any examples of best practice which could inform the work of the museums sector as a whole.  It will also reflect on the role of JEF as a funder in the museums sector and where this programme fits in the funding environment for museums and galleries.

The third round is now open, with a closing date of 9 October 2015, with decisions to be made in March 2016. Applicants should therefore plan for work to start on or after April 2016.

Our budget for 2015/16 is £482,000.  We expect to make four or five grants.

The fund’s criteria will remain broadly the same. Please see the foundation’s website for full details and how to apply

The programme was originally set up to run for three years.  During this third round we will begin to take stock of our experience, and use the learning from the evaluation to inform our thinking about our long term approach to funding regional museums and galleries.

Bowes Museum, County Durham, received £89,250 in Round 2

Bowes Museum, County Durham, received £89,250 in Round 2

List of grants approved

Lakeland Arts, Cumbria

£90,000 over three years towards the Cumbria Museums Consortium Curatorial Skills Development Programme, which will provide training, share knowledge to strengthen collection care and loans programmes for museums across the region.

Bowes Museum, County Durham

£89,250 over three years, towards the salary of an early career curator of Fine Art to work closely with the Auckland Castle curatorial team and Durham University to develop, research the collections, disseminate the knowledge and raise the profile of Spanish Art in Durham.

Gainsborough’s House Society, Suffolk

£84,000 over three years towards core costs, specifically the salary of  the ‘Keeper of Art & Place’ to develop the ‘Art in Suffolk’ initiative with museums across the county, by sharing professional art curatorial skills and training to help the county’s museums make the best use of their art collections.

Manchester Museums Partnership 

£97,882 over two years towards a programme of curatorial development, to enhance knowledge, skills and confidence in the use of the four partner museums’ collections of Islamic art, fabric and other objects.

Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton

£92,505 over two years towards the ‘Film Pioneers’ project, which will better understand and display this important film and media collection which illustrates the seminal role Brighton & Hove played in film-making in the 1890s and early 1900s.

Bristol Museums Development Trust

£85,425 over two years towards the costs of South West Museums Natural Sciences Project which is a dedicated programme of training and professional development to enhance curatorial skills across the region.

AIM Conservation Scheme: Museum Collections Unit, University of St Andrews

The following is an account from the Museum Collections Unit, University of St Andrews, on how an AIM conservation grant of  £1,500 has helped to preserve Indian paintings on glass.

The University of St Andrews was founded between 1410 and 1414 and has accumulated artefacts of significance since this period. The Museum Collections Unit exists to manage and preserve the collections in its care and to make these collections available to the academic, scholarly and general public by study, publication and exhibition.

The Museum Collections Unit was awarded an AIM Conservation Grant to support the conservation of a collection of rare Indian paintings on glass. The glass paintings depict Hindu deities and are thought to have been executed in Southern India, probably Tanjore, in the mid-19th century. The paintings are displayed inside wooden frames and the decoration has been painted directly onto the surface of the glass using gouache and gold leaf, which was likely bound in a gum arabic solution.

The collection was presented to the University of St Andrews in the late nineteenth century by the Reverend Augustus Clifford Bell (1832-1874), who was a graduate of the University. Reverend Bell was Chaplain of the Church of Scotland St Andrews Church, Madras, from 1860 to 1874 and it is believed that he may have collected these paintings during this period.

Painting 1

These paintings are significant not only for their artistic merit but also because of the valuable insight that they provide into material culture and cultural relations between Indian craftsmen and the British in the 19th century. These pieces were produced by Indian artists for British patrons. Works of this type are often referred to as ‘Company Paintings’ because many of these patrons worked for the various East India companies. Due to the fragility of their construction and often because of their religious subject matter, it was very rare for travellers to bring glass paintings back to Britain.

Before conservation, the glass paintings were in a very fragile condition. It was feared that the areas of painted decoration within the remaining eight glass paintings were in danger of being lost due to the deterioration and flaking of paint away from the glass surface. The paintings were also loose and unstable within their original wooden frames.

With the assistance of an AIM grant, the Indian paintings on glass have been conserved. This complex conservation project was carried out by an ICON-accredited stained glass conservator, Mr Mark Bambrough of the Scottish Glass Studios. The basis of this conservation approach was adapted from an article entitled ‘Conservation of Indian Mica Paintings’ in the Conservation Journal (Summer 2000, Issue 35), published by the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Seven of the painted glass panes were removed from their wooden frames and placed inside a fume cabinet and sprayed with a consolidant (5% Paraloid B72 and Acetone). This process secured the loose paint fragments and gold leaf back to the glass panels. The glass panes were then returned to their frames in a way that prevented further movement of the painted panels and abrasion against the original wooden back board. This was achieved by placing a sheet of acid-free brown paper and polyethylene foam between the painted panel and wooden backboard to create a physical separation between the two surfaces.

Painting 2

The glass panes were then secured inside the frames by using small pieces of polyethylene foam to hold the glass in place and prevent any horizontal movement inside the frames (please see enclosed photographs documenting the individual processes). One of the glass paintings, a panel depicting Vishnu, had been badly broken in the past and held together using non-conservation grade tape and mount board. This panel was carefully removed from its backing board and bonded together using conservation grade resin to create one single decorated pane.

The assistance of an AIM Conservation Scheme grant has enabled the Museum Collections Unit to conserve the Indian paintings on glass in order to preserve and promote public access to this rare collection. We are delighted that this vital conservation work has secured their future for the benefit and appreciation of museum audiences for generations to come.

Claire Robinson

Collections and Exhibitions Curator

Museum Collections Unit, University of St Andrews

 To find out more about the types of grant that AIM offers, please visit:

China-UK Connections Development Grants Open for Applications

China-UK Connection through Culture Development Grant Round 18/中英文化连线发展基金第18期开放

The British Council is pleased to announce the launch of the 18th round of the China-UK Connections Development Grant. The grant will enable one member of staff from your organisation to visit your counterparts in China or the UK between February and July 2015, with the aim of furthering the face-to-face discussions needed to develop projects between you and your counterparts.

China-UK Connections through Culture programme offers support, information, advice, networking opportunities and development grants to cultural organisations in China and the UK, aiming to build long lasting relationships and to develop exciting cultural collaborations between organisations between the two countries.

Application open: Monday, 13 October 2014
Application deadline: Sunday, 7 December 2014
Results out: Friday, 9 January 2015
For visits taking place between February and July 2015

Read the full announcement and a downloadable application form:

This will be the last CtC grant round.


More funds available through AIM Sustainability Grants

AIM is pleased to announce the re-launch of the AIM Sustainability Grants, funded by Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. The new programme has revised grant criteria and a larger amount of funding to be distributed to small and medium sized museums. The key changes are detailed below.

The Sustainability Grants were first launched in 2006. Since then over 240 museums have benefited from grants of over £600,000 to help them improve their organisational sustainability. An independent evaluation of the programme earlier this year, found that in many areas there were no similar funding schemes available to museums and that there were over 300 eligible AIM members who had yet to benefit from a grant, indicating considerable, ongoing need for support. As a result the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation not only agreed to renew the scheme for a further three years, but also increased the amount available for grants from £60,000 p.a. to £75,000 p.a.

In order to ensure the Sustainability Grants continue to meet museums’ needs their have been some amendments to the eligibility criteria, guidance notes and assessment criteria, which will apply from the next round of grants, the closing date for which is 15th January 2015. If you intend to apply please make sure you use the new application form and refer to the new guidance, which are available on the AIM website.

The grants will continue to fund similar projects to those supported in previous rounds. However, we are keen to see more applications that focus on the long-term sustainability of a museum by looking at its organisational health (e.g. through governance reviews, business planning etc). Applications that will help generate more income for the museum will also continue to be eligible.

Applicants are asked to say whether their grant is for income generation or organisational health and ensure that their proposed project outcomes are relevant to the type of application they are making. The grant committee welcome innovative ideas for income generation and accept that they bring a degree of risk, but would still expect to see such projects being well planned.


  • The applicant must be an AIM member and can be based in any part of the UK.
  • The applicant must be an accredited museums, or have ‘working towards accreditation’ status.
  • It must have fewer than 50,000 visitors p.a. (previously 60,000 visitors) OR  a turnover of under £300,000.
  • The applicant must be a registered charity. It is possible for a registered charity such as a Friends organisation to apply on behalf of a local authority museum with which they are associated but in this case the registered charity and the museum must both be members of AIM.
  • A small museum that meets the eligibility criteria in its own right may apply, even if it is part of a larger organisation, but in this case both the museum applicant and the parent organisation must be members of AIM.

The new application form and guidance notes also provide information about amendments to the assessment criteria which the committee use to assess all applications.

As always, Justeen Stone is very happy to discuss your application with you before you apply. If you have any questions please feel free to contact her –



Scottish Festival of Museums gets ready for 2015

Scotland’s 2015 Festival of Museums fund open for applications

Workshops available

Dates for the 2015 Festival of Museums are 15-17 May 2015. Following on from their success last year, Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) are running a series of workshops in October and November 2014, which will include information on submitting a Festival of Museums funding application.

The closing date for applications to the fund is 5 pm on Friday 21 November. Any Accredited museum in Scotland can apply for between £300 and £1500 to support them to deliver ambitious events that will be part of the Festival of Museums 2015 programme.

MGS can also support staff training costs where the training is helping to build skills in the areas relevant to event planning, marketing, PR and sponsorship.

For further information and to download an application form, please visit the MGS website.

If you are interested in attending a workshop, they will be taking place in the following locations. Please click on the links to book a place.
Perth, 15 October 2014 – Perth Museum and Art Gallery
Inverness, 22 October 2014 – Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
Edinburgh, TBC November 2014 – MGS Offices, Waverley Gate
Glasgow, TBC November 2014 – GoMA

Further information can also be found on the MGS website.

If you have any questions do contact MGS at