Take Me to Museums children's activity book

Early Years Innovation in Museums

A research and development programme with Art Fund and Nesta.

Applications close on 15 May

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A two-year research and development programme to develop, test and scale a new early years’ intervention in museums and encourage a wider range of families to use and visit museums more often. The intervention will support early child development and enhance parent-child interactions among priority families.

We are looking for 8 lead museums to help us develop and deliver this two-year programme, with each receiving a grant of up to £65,000 from Art Fund and Nesta to participate.

Participation will involve:

  • Collaboration on the development of an evidence-informed facilitated intervention for parents and children under 5, alongside other museums and early years development professionals.

  • Testing and refining the intervention in the museum with cohorts of around 12 families (the number of cohorts to be determined as part of the design process).

  • Identifying and building relationships with local community partners and working closely with them to engage families to take part in the programme by attending the 6-8 weekly sessions in the museum (the interventions).

  • Identifying and onboarding an additional partner museum to further test and evaluate the intervention.

  • Participating in project meetings, design sessions, evaluation and workshops.
    Sharing learning and insights with museum peers, and support knowledge sharing with the wider sector.

For more information about funding, eligibility and timings, please read the application guidance (PDF).

Art Fund x Nesta logos

A research and development programme created by Art Fund and Nesta, through generous support from the Foyle Foundation through a legacy grant.

Foyle Foundation

Support for participation

Each of the lead museums will receive a grant of up to £65,000, to cover the costs of participating in the programme.

Who can apply

We are looking for applications from UK museums, galleries, visual arts organisations and historic places who can demonstrate:

  • Experience and best practice in working with early years families.

  • An interest in and commitment to this ambitious innovation process and a track record of, or strong desire to, unlock the social value of cultural spaces and places for more families.

  • Existing relationships with intermediaries that support low income families, or a demonstrable ability to form these relationships quickly.

  • Ability to identify, onboard and work with at least 1 new additional museum partner during the second phase of the project.

  • Ability to take part in the full programme, including the two-day residential workshop on 19-20 June.

Please read the application guidance for full eligibility details.

Key dates

  • 15 May - applications close

  • 7 June - lead museums selected and onboarding begins

  • 19-20 June - residential design workshop (Leamington Spa, Warwickshire)

How to apply

Your application

Read the guidance

Download the Guidance for applicants which explains our criteria for funding, helps you apply for a grant and gives you guidance on filling out the application form.

Get in touch

To discuss the programme or if you haven’t found what you need in the Guidance for applicants, get in touch with Emma Mills, Project Manager, Programmes or Cat Monks, Head of Programme Development.

Submit your application

Please complete the application form (Word) and send it to programmes@artfund.org, with the subject title ‘Early Years Innovation in Museums - Research and Development Programme, lead museum application’.

After you've applied

Acknowledgement of application

Applications will be assessed and put to a decision-making panel comprised of representatives of both Art Fund and Nesta. Applicants will be contacted by early June with the outcome of the panel’s decision and begin onboarding.

Residential design workshop

Successful lead museums will be required to send up to two project leads to attend a two-day residential design workshop on 19-20 June in to develop the intervention alongside Nesta, child development experts and other museum partners. The residential design workshop will take place in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.

Frequently asked questions

We are not a museum. Can we still apply?
What do you mean by the term 'intervention'?
How are you defining 'low income families'?
I would like to apply but unfortunately can’t make the residential workshop in June. Can my organisation still apply?
What can the £65,000 grant be used for?
What kinds of community partners and networks can we work with as intermediaries and do we have to have an existing relationship with them?
I am keen for my organisation to take part but I don’t know if we will be able to recruit a partner museum. Can we still apply?
Can we onboard and work with more than one museum partner in the second phase of roll out and testing?
Can you explain more about what the evaluation process will involve?
How will Art Fund and Nesta communicate with lead and partner museums over the course of the project?

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