Apply now – AIM Collections Care Audit, Collections Care and Conservation Grants


AIM has just over 1000 member museums across the UK who care for a huge and significant range of historic objects and collections. Over 70% of our members are small (fewer than 20k visitors pa) and struggle to find the resources and expertise to meet their collections care and conservation needs.  

The grants schemes developed in partnership with the Pilgrim Trust and ICON, deliver funding support to organisations that may lack the confidence or expertise to apply to a major funder directly whilst also underlining the importance of using professional conservation expertise 

The AIM Pilgrim conservation grant scheme has been running since 2013. In 2019 AIM successfully applied to the Pilgrim Trust to continue to run the scheme for a further three years to 2022. This offered a valuable opportunity to renew the partnership with Icon. 


Collections Care Audit grants enable small museums to undertake a basic professional collections care audit. Working in partnership with Icon we maintain a roster of 40 approved conservators.  Audits are undertaken to help museums identify key collection care issues and priorities. The grant covers a standard three-day audit and are a starting point for museums that have not previously had professional conservation advice. 

Collections Care grants help museums with under 50,000 visitors or a turnover of less than £300,000 pa to develop a more sustainable approach to the conservation and management of collections. Grants of up to £10,000 are available to enable museums to make a step-change in the quality of care they can provide.  

Remedial Conservation grants have the same requirements as collections care grants but help with the conservation of objects in their collections. Grants of up to £10,000 are available to conserve (with an accredited conservator) objects that are part of a museum’s permanent collection.  

Demand for these grant schemes is consistently very high. In 2017 and 2018 the Remedial Conservation grants received £158,282.34 of applications for £100,000 of available funding and the Collections Care grants received £230,438.05 of applications for £100,000 of funding. 

Museums can apply for up to £10,000 in both the Collections Care and Conservation grants schemes but on average grants awarded are around £5,000. In 2017-2018 there were 58 applications to the Collections Care scheme with 28 awards and 35 applications to the Conservation scheme with 28 awards. 

In the same period 34 applications for Collections Care Audits were received and 28 awards were made. 

Outcomes and learning 


The three grant schemes have been proven to work as not only a source of scarce conservation funding but a robust and effective route to having a positive impact on collections care, access and learning across small museums.  

The grants help smaller museums achieve the collections care standards required for the Arts Council England Museum Accreditation scheme. All three grant schemes deliver conservation funding to parts of the sector that would not get similar support elsewhere. 

Callendar House (Falkirk)- conservation of the Baird televisor (£2155) explained:  

“The funding has allowed us to continue to protect and conserve items in the collection in a time of financial cutbacks.” This has allowed them to continue displaying their unique section of history. 

Collections Care Audits 

Audits provide an essential ‘steppingstone’ into meeting museum standards for collections care and conservation for many volunteers who are new to the sector. They are also a useful to the panel when applicants for Collections Care grants would benefit from professional input and are consequently referred for an audit as a first step.  Six audits have now resulted in Collections Care grant applications. 15 audits per year are expected between 2020-2022.  

Collections Care and Conservation grants 

No other collections care grant schemes in the sector are so wide ranging and although awards are modest (average grant £2773) they can be transformational for a museum, for example: 

The creation of a new accessible (for volunteers and public visits) storage facility for the Isle of Lismore Museum (co-funded with Museums Galleries Scotland). 

 The Herne Bay Museum Trust have been able to safely display their prototype Barnes Wallis bouncing bomb with a Collections Care grant for dehumidification for a display case:  

Kingsbridge Cookworthy Museum- conservation of two important enamelled signs (award £2000) “The grant was so helpful to us as we don’t have conservation expertise in house, and there aren’t many grants that fund object conservation. We now also have more confidence as an organisation in applying for conservation grants.” And “He (the conservator) was able to not only conserve the signs but to advise volunteers how best to look after the sings and our other metalwork at the same time.” 

The St Andrews Preservation Trust Museum – conservation of two artworks by a local artist (£1850) said “ This one project has paved the way for developing a conservation list…”

Read more case studies from AIM members who have received this funding here. 

To make an application

The closing date for applications is 30 September 2020. For further guidance and an application form, please click here.  If you want to have a chat with someone about a potential application. please contact Justeen Stone, AIM Programmes and Finance Officer on 

Not an AIM member? Find out more about joining AIM to get access to grants like these here.