Jonathan Ruffer curatorial grants

This programme provides funding for travel and other practical costs to help curators undertake collection and exhibition research projects in the UK or abroad.

This unique programme has been established through the auspices of Jonathan Ruffer and Anthony Mould, who share with the Art Fund a belief in the importance of nurturing curatorial skills and supporting serious research. The Art Fund is able to offer grants totalling approximately £75,000 annually through this scheme.

While this programme aims to help sustain curatorial development and collections-based research, it is not intended to replace statutory funding. We hope it will demonstrate the importance and benefits of continued investment in curatorial expertise, and stimulate the provision of funding from other sources.

If you are interested in making an application, please telephone the Programmes office at the Art Fund on 020 7225 4822 for more information and to discuss your proposal. We will not process any applications that have not been approved for submission in advance by the Programmes office.

What we will support

Applications from UK curators, scholars and researchers, individually or in partnership, to undertake travel or other activities to extend and develop their curatorial expertise, collections-based knowledge and art historical interests. See ‘eligibilty’ below for further notes on who can apply.

Applications may include requests to support:

  • Travel and accommodation
  • Training courses/programmes of study
  • Books and subscriptions to add to a museum’s research resources or library
  • Temporary administrative cover to enable time away from work to undertake research (including training costs to enable another member of the team to provide adequate cover)

We are willing to consider funding other kinds of activity, provided the applicant can make a substantive case for its contribution to the furtherance of curatorial skill and collections-based research projects. Applicants can also request support towards additional research activities to extend existing museum projects or research proposals.


This programme aim to help sustain and promote curatorial development and collections-based research through making grants to individuals. In addition, in all our grant-making, the Art Fund is committed to delivering public benefit, and we achieve this through supporting the development of museum collections so they are well presented and readily available for the public to appreciate and enjoy. Applicants will therefore also be expected to make a case for how our funding will help further this aim. However, we accept that research can and should be exploratory and creative. We therefore welcome adventurous applications, and will not always expect material outcomes (for example in the form of acquisitions, exhibitions or publications) to be an immediate consequence of our support.


The programme is open to curators who work across the full range of fine and applied art collections in museums and galleries that hold at least provisional accreditation and are open to the public. In addition, in recognition of the need for new skills, knowledge and research to benefit museum collections for the future, these grants are also available to researchers, art historians and academics from other relevant and related disciplines, retired curators, and other museum professionals who plan to work within and alongside museums to improve the use and understanding of their fine and applied art collections. Applications from individuals not based in a museum or gallery must be accompanied by a letter of support from an accredited, or provisionally accredited, public collection.​

We will not normally consider funding:

  • Equipment – eg computers or related hardware, or cameras
  • Photographic costs
  • Reproduction/copyright costs
  • First-class travel
  • Research projects being undertaken by undergraduate or postgraduate university students.

Size of grants

The Art Fund will consider funding requests for a minimum of £200. There are two categories of grant: one up to £1,500; the other above £1,500.

We wish to see our support have an immediate impact and in some instances are happy to consider requests for 100% funding. Applicants will be required to ensure the travel/activities proposed are realistic and represent the best value for money, and will be asked to demonstrate this as part of the application process.

If completion of the research project or other activity proposed is contingent on receiving other sources of funding then applicants will be required to indicate where else they are applying for support, the expected outcome (if known) and timescale for the decision.

Grants of £200 to £1,500

We would anticipate applications at this level being, in the main, small and discrete grants for travel (e.g. for research projects or visits to galleries/exhibitions/artists’ studios/art fairs), professional training courses, the purchase of books and catalogues, or research expenses.

There are no fixed deadlines for applications in this category. Applicants must allow at the very minimum four weeks between the submission of the application and the time by which a decision should be reached. Bearing this in mind, if the application includes funding for travel, applicants must allow sufficient time to book tickets that represent the best value for money.

Grants of £1,501 and above

A total of £40,000 will be available annually in three rounds. This will naturally limit the scope of proposals, but the Art Fund hopes that applicants will nonetheless be creative and ambitious, and bold with regard to the amount of funding they request if they feel their ideas warrant significant investment. 

At this level we would expect to see applications for a programme of research or a coherent series of activities.

There are three deadlines per year for applications of £1,501 and above; in February, May and September. These deadlines correspond to the meetings of the committee in March, June and October. Please telephone the Programmes office on 020 7225 4822 for more information. 

Find out how to apply.