Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund - Museums Association

Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund

The Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund supports a range of projects that bring collections closer to people.

We award the fund on behalf of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to projects that demonstrate the significance, distinctiveness and power of collections to people.

The fund has awarded over £11m to 162 projects since it launched in 2011. In 2021 we ran two rounds of funding. In response to changing needs from museums during the pandemic, we offered grants for two purposes, both up to £90k over around two years.


The Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund supports museums to use their collections to become relevant and sustainable organisations that are connected to and valued by their communities. All applications to the fund must focus on existing collections, typically held by an Accredited museum or partnership of museums and other organisations, and the funded work must engage and involve audiences to achieve public benefit.

What’s on offer

In 2022 we have simplified the grants we are offering, recognising the challenge of the pandemic and seeking ways to build on the great work undertaken in the last two years.

This year we will offer grants of up to £90k over around two years for museums to test new, ambitious, creative collections engagement that has a social impact. These grants are for museums to innovate, kick-start or develop their collections engagement practice where there is a strong link between a relevant collection and audience.

How to apply

Expression of interest deadlines are 21 March 2022 for grant awards in July and 14 September 2022 for awards in December, following a two-stage process. In total £1.3m will be awarded, across an anticipated seven to ten projects in each funding round. All applicants will meet a set of essential requirements relating to using existing collections to engage, involve and inspire audiences. You can find out more about what we want to see in our guidance for applicants.


Please contact Sarah Briggs or Sally Colvin for advice on eligibility for the fund and help to develop applications:

Case studies

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