Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund - Museums Association

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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 170 projects since it launched in 2011. You can find out more about the most recent recipients (July 2022) of the funding below.


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 are offering 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

The last expression of interest deadline this year is 14 September 2022 for awards in December, following a two-stage process. In total £1.3m will be awarded in 2022 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.

In 2023 the criteria will be changing as the fund evolves to better serve the needs of the sector, so this is the last opportunity to apply to the fund in its current form. Look out for an announcement in the autumn where we’ll explore the future of the fund.

We strongly advise potential applicants to contact us prior to submission to talk through your idea – please get in touch with


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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