April 11-14, 2007
San Francisco, California

IMLS Grants for Technology

Dan Lukash, Institute for Museum and Library Service (IMLS), USA


The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) will present an informational session highlighting how IMLS grants can help meet the technology needs of the museum community. The session will be hosted by Dan Lukash, a Senior Program Officer with IMLS. He will discuss specifics about funding opportunities with a focus on IMLS grant programs that are most applicable to assist museums in addressing an institution's individual technology needs and/or bigger issues in the field.

Representatives from a current grantee, the Walker Art Center, will provide first-hand information about developing, submitting, and implementing an IMLS-funded project. They will also discuss their project to significantly enhance the ArtsConnectED web site, including how it was developed based on user feedback to empower users to independently create their own content using an open source platform.

Keywords: grants, funding, projects, technology, support, national, USA


IMLS is an agency of the United States Government that provides grants to museums for a wide variety of museum operations and services as well as grants to support the museum community. This session will focus on 3 grant categories that could best support technology project in museums or support the museum profession in the technology area. The three programs to be discussed are described below:

National Leadership Grants

Program Overview

National Leadership Grants enable libraries and museums to help people gain the knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviors, and resources that enhance their engagement in community, work, family, and society. Projects should enable libraries and museums to address current problems in creative ways, develop and test innovative solutions, and expand the boundaries within which cultural heritage institutions operate. The results of these projects will help equip tomorrow’s libraries and museums to better meet the needs of a Nation of Learners. Successful proposals will show evidence that they will have national impact and generate results - new tools, research, models, services, practices, or alliances - that can be widely adapted or replicated to extend the benefit of federal support. Proposals will reflect an understanding of current issues and needs, showing the potential for far-reaching impact throughout the museum and/or library community. Projects will provide creative solutions to issues of national importance and provide leadership for other organizations.

Collaborative planning grants are available to enable project teams from more than one institution to work together to plan a collaborative project in any of the National Leadership Grant categories: Building Digital Resources, Library and Museum Community Collaboration Grants, and Research and Demonstration

Categories of Funding

Building Digital Resources: Building Digital Resources grants support the creation, use, preservation, and presentation of significant digital resources as well as the development of tools to manage digital assets. Projects should enhance learning and innovation by ensuring that the digital assets promote individual and community access to excellent, responsive, and pertinent museum and library resources. IMLS encourages digitization projects with item-level metadata that is harvestable with the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) Protocol for Metadata Harvesting.

Library and Museum Community Collaboration Grants: Community Collaboration Grants are designed to create new opportunities for libraries and museums to engage with each other, and with other organizations as appropriate, to support the educational, economic, and social needs of their communities. In addition to libraries, archives, and museums, partners may include community organizations, public media, and other institutions and agencies that may help libraries and museums to better serve their communities. A partnership of at least one eligible library entity AND one eligible museum entity is required. Additional partners are encouraged where appropriate. The lead applicant must be an eligible library or museum entity and will serve as the financial agent if a grant is awarded.

Research and Demonstration: Research and Demonstration grants support projects that have the potential to improve museum and library practice, resource use, programs, and services.

Collaborative Planning Grants: Collaborative Planning Grants are designed to enable project teams from libraries, museums, and other partner organizations to work together on a collaborative project in any of the National Leadership Grant categories. At least one of the partners must be an eligible library entity or an eligible museum entity. The lead applicant must be an eligible entity and will serve as the fiscal agent if a grant is awarded.

Museums for America

Program Overview

Museums for America is the Institute’s largest grant program for museums, providing more than $17 million in grants to support the role of museums in American society.

Museums for America grants strengthen a museum’s ability to serve the public more effectively by supporting high-priority activities that advance the institution’s mission and strategic goals.

In FY 2007, Museums for America funding will support projects and activities, designed by the institution, that strengthen museums as active resources for lifelong learning and as key players in the establishment of livable communities. Museums for America grants are designed to be flexible. They can be used for ongoing museum activities, research and other behind-the-scenes activities, planning activities, new programs or activities, purchase of equipment or services, or other activities that will support the efforts of museums to upgrade and integrate new technologies into their overall institutional effectiveness.

The Institute seeks to distribute funding for Museums for America grants across all types and sizes of museums, as well as among all funding categories. Applicants may apply in one of three funding categories: $5,000-$24,999, $25,000-$74,999, or $75,000-$150,000. A 1:1 match is required in each category. All applications must demonstrate evidence of institutional strategic planning and show the relationship between the activities for which funding is requested and the institution’s plan. Although project activities may occur only once, project goals should be investments for the future, not one-time activities with no long-term impact on the museum or its community.

21st Century Museum Professionals

Program Overview

Museums play a critical role in the education of the public by preserving the world’s rich cultural heritage and helping to transmit it from one generation to the next. Museum professionals need high levels of knowledge and expertise as they help create public value for both local and national communities. This program supports projects that help museum professionals acquire, improve, and maintain their knowledge and skills.

21st Century Museum Professionals grants are intended to reach broad groups of museum professionals throughout a city, county, state, region, or the nation and increase their capacities to serve their audiences. These projects should reach multiple institutions and diverse audiences.

Funding will support projects involving core management skills such as planning, leadership, finance, program design, partnership, and evaluation. Project focus areas may also include, but not be limited to, collections care and management, interpretation, marketing and audience development, visitor services, governance, and other areas of museum operations. Proposals may also focus on projects that help museums attract and retain staff, and improve the capacity of museums to address the rapidly changing demographics in many communities.

Examples of project activities include the development and implementation of classes and workshops; organizational support for the development of internship and fellowship programs; support for the enhancement of pre-professional training programs; dissemination of information through publications, Web sites, or other means; and activities that strengthen the use of contemporary technology tools to deliver programs and services.

Grantee Presentation

Walker Art Center – Minneapolis, MN

Year: 2006
Amount: $287,125
Grant:National Leadership Grants for Museums - Building Digital Resources
The Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts will continue their strong partnership in a project to enhance and provide access to their ArtsConnectEd Web site. The first version, created in 1998, has been very successful, but now new technologies and new needs have created an opportunity to enhance the service this Web site already provides. This improvement will permit the site to be a dynamic, open source site that allows educators to create and manage the content of the educational material and respond more directly to teacher needs. Teachers have expressed a strong desire for the resources and flexibility to revise the content as their classroom needs change. There will be a project report as well as a project blog. In addition, on-line seminars will be held for museum professionals to learn how to create or replicate features that are of interest for their own institutions.

The project director will discuss the application process and will detail some of the activities in the project. The discussion will include information on the evaluation process, how user feedback will then be incorporated into the new Web site, and the nature of the open source dynamic.

Cite as:

Lukash, D., IMLS Grants for Technology, in J. Trant and D. Bearman (eds.). Museums and the Web 2007: Proceedings, Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics, published March 1, 2007 Consulted

Editorial Note