New Collecting Awards

This funding programme enables promising and ambitious curators to pursue new avenues of collecting for their museums, and at the same time build critical professional skills.

Sarah Rothwell from National Museums Scotland – one of the winners of the New Collecting Awards' first round © National Museums Scotland

Sarah Rothwell from National Museums Scotland – one of the winners of the New Collecting Awards' first round

Applications are currently closed. Read about the second-round winners.

Background and aims

New Collecting Awards help museums and galleries develop their fine and applied art collections by offering 100% funding for focused collecting that extends holdings into new areas, or deepens existing holdings in imaginative ways. The programme responds to the reality that excellent collections development requires curatorial vision and ambition – award recipients also receive a specific funding allocation dedicated to their own professional development, to spend on research, travel and training costs to support their proposed collecting plans, plus the ongoing support of a mentor, Art Fund staff and trustees.

New Collecting Awards marks a significant new phase in the Art Fund’s ongoing commitment to support curators and develop museum collections across the UK. It aims to:

  • Offer special acquisition grants to help a new generation of curators hone their skills in developing museum collections and buying works of art.
  • Help museums and galleries extend holdings into exciting new areas, or deepen existing holdings in imaginative ways.
  • Promote the value of research-led collecting and foster curatorial expertise at individual and institutional levels, thus enriching museum practice over the long term.

Who can apply?

The overarching aim of the scheme is to nurture the skills and experience of ambitious curators by offering them an opportunity to participate in a strategic collecting scheme designed to support acquisitions of the highest quality.

We welcome applications from curators employed by fully or provisionally accredited museums or galleries who are either in the early stages of their career or who have previously had limited opportunities to collect. Applicants will be expected to demonstrate why receiving a New Collecting Award would benefit not only their museum and its collections, but also their own professional development in a way that would not otherwise be possible.

We would expect most applicants to be in full- or part-time employment at an accredited museum or art gallery. However, we will in exceptional circumstances accept applications from freelance curators or researchers, provided they can demonstrate that they will be officially affiliated with an accredited museum or gallery for the duration of the project, and that there will be a longer-term institutional impact as a result of their participation.

How much is available?

In this round of New Collecting Awards up to £400,000 will be available to be shared between successful applicants. This increase in available funding responds to the huge demand in round one, and our belief in and desire to invest in the creativity, talent and commitment that lies at the heart of the UK’s museums and galleries.

The deadline to submit an expression of interest is 4 September 2015. Selected curators will then be invited to present to the New Collecting Awards Panel in November 2015.

Curators can apply for any amount up to the total amount of funding available in the round, but will be expected to demonstrate that the sum is reasonable and proportionate in relation to the proposed types and number of works they wish to collect.

A ring-fenced allocation for professional development will be 10% of the total sum awarded, up to a maximum of £5,000.

Please note that the Art Fund may choose to award a reduced grant for planned acquisitions or professional development at our own discretion.

Find out how to apply.



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