Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund

Fund will split into two tiers and provide more than £3.75m over three years

The Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund supports a range of projects that bring collections closer to people. Run by the Museums Association (MA), the fund awards grants to projects that demonstrate the significance, distinctiveness and power of collections to people.

The fund has awarded £8.5m to 108 projects since it launched in 2011. Recent projects include Multaka-Oxford at the Pitt Rivers Museum and the History of Science Museum in Oxford, which creates volunteering opportunities for forced migrants to work with collections. The initiative recently won the Collections Trust Award 2019. 

From 2020, the fund will enter a new phase and award more than £3.75m over the next three years, split across two tiers.

The purpose of the fund will remain the same – however, our approach in the next phase will reflect changes in the museum sector in recent years and the findings of the MA’s Empowering Collections report. 

The first tier will support core collections work in museums. Grants of up to £250,000 will be available for around 12 five-year projects that contribute to the strategic direction of the recipient organisation and leave a long-term legacy. 

We will also offer coaching to organisations awarded these larger grants and facilitate specialist organisational support where needed. 

“We saw lots of potential in scaling up some of the work we do with museums that, for example, want to review and rationalise their collection with partners or who want to establish a partnership on a collections theme,” says Sally Colvin, programmes manager at the MA. 

The second tier of the fund will provide smaller grants for projects spanning two to three years that have a strong link between relevant collections and audiences. We will particularly look for projects that are ambitious, innovative and test new ways of working. 

New application deadlines and materials will be published on this page. 


Sally Colvin:, 020 7566 7851

Sarah Briggs:, 0114 245 0001