About AIM and Independent Museums

Black Country Living Museum
Black Country Living Museum
The Tank Museum
The Tank Museum
Royal Navy Submarine Museum
Royal Navy Submarine Museum


AIM was established in 1977 to address the specific needs of the growing independent museum sector, creating a network for mutual help and support that would share good practice and provide a singular voice for the independents.

Today AIM continues that work, supporting and championing independent museums, galleries and heritage organisations across the UK – helping them to achieve their purpose and ensuring their needs are recognised and addressed by policy makers, funders and other organisations working in the sector.

AIM helps heritage organisations prosper, demonstrating the relevance and importance of our heritage to everyone so that it is preserved and inspires all our futures.

A registered charity and limited company, AIM is led by a Board of Trustees, with a staff team of seven .

Independent Museums

Independent museums are long-standing, successful social enterprises run on a business-like basis. They play a valuable role in their communities, contributing to a sense of place and making up an important part of the tourism economy.

The UK’s 1,600 independent museums account for more than half of the UK’s museum sector and are the largest type of museum within that sector.

They cover a wide range of subject matter: two-thirds deal with specialist subjects and transport, military, industrial heritage, galleries and famous persons are the most numerous.

A third are more general in their collections. They range from major ‘civic’ museums to numerous medium size museums in county towns (often with Designated collections) and over 300 small museums concerned with local and community history.

Who can join AIM?

AIM has a diverse mix of members from the smallest to the largest museums in the UK. AIM is an open, respectful, supportive and welcoming community whose members are expected to uphold the behaviours and good practice highlighted in the AIM Hallmarks of Prospering Museums, and our commitment to delivering public benefit. Membership is open to any museum or heritage site – you don’t have to be independently run to apply to join. Please visit our Join AIM page for prices, information and a membership form.

The AIM membership

Click here to read profiles of several AIM members>>

Click here to view the AIM members on a map (updated November 2021)>>

Helping organisations

Join AIM for support, discounts and other benefits

Sign up to AIM e-newsletter

Sign up for free to receive the fortnightly E News from AIM and get news about jobs, grants, events and much more

AIM Grants

AIM can offer member museums a variety of grants to support different areas of your work