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

This unique programme has been established with the support of Jonathan Ruffer and Anthony Mould, who share our belief in the importance of developing curatorial skills and supporting serious research. Since 2012 we have helped 247 curators, scholars and researchers with 225 projects, and we are able to offer grants totalling approximately £75,000 annually.

Below you can find information on the sort of activities we can support, and details on eligibility. If you are interested in applying, we ask you to telephone the Programmes office on 020 7225 4822 to discuss your proposal.

What does the grant support?

We welcome applications from UK curators, museum professionals and researchers to undertake travel or other activities to extend and develop their curatorial expertise, collections-based knowledge and art historical interests.

Applications may include requests to support:

  • Travel and accommodation for research trips and conferences
  • Museum and exhibition visits
  • Training courses and programmes of study
  • Books and subscriptions to add to a museum’s research resources or library

We can consider funding other kinds of activity, provided you are able to make a strong case for its contribution to the development of curatorial skill and collections-based research projects.


Through this scheme we aim to help individuals realise their curatorial ambitions, through offering grants for collections-based research and curatorial development opportunities. In all our grant making, 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; we want to hear how our grant to you will help further this aim.

However, we accept that research can and should be exploratory and creative. We therefore welcome ambitious 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.

While this programme aims to help support 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 encourage funding from other sources.

Who can apply?

The programme is open to curators and other professionals working in museums and galleries that hold at least provisional accreditation and are open to the public.

In addition, we recognise the need for new skills, knowledge and research to benefit museum collections for the future, so these grants are also available to researchers, art historians and academics working with museums to improve the use and understanding of their collections. If you are not based in a museum or gallery we ask that you provide a letter of support from an accredited, or provisionally accredited, public collection. Please note that grants are paid to the supporting institution and cannot be paid to individuals.

We will not normally consider funding:

  • Purchase or hire of equipment – eg computers or related hardware, or cameras
  • Photographic or reproduction/copyright costs
  • First-class travel
  • Research projects being undertaken by undergraduate or postgraduate university students.

How much can you apply for?

We 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.

Although we are happy to consider applications for 100% funding, we do ask that you consider where else you may source funds; financial support from your museum or gallery, however small, goes a long way towards demonstrating that your institution is committed to your development and the activities you want to undertake.

If completion of the research project or other activity proposed is dependent on the success of other funding applications, we will ask you to present your full funding package and indicate when you hope to hear the outcomes of these applications.

Grants of £200 to £1,500

A total of £35,000 is available annually for grant requests at this level. 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. We ask that you allow at least four weeks between submitting your application and the time by which you need a decision; you should bear this in mind if applying towards travel costs to 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, and it is only in exceptional circumstances that we will offer a grant of more than £5,000. This will naturally limit the scope of proposals, but we nonetheless hope you will be creative and ambitious in your application, and bold with regard to the amount of funding you request if you feel your ideas are deserving.

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.