Cultural and Historical Support Grant Program

The PHMC is pleased to announce that this year it will be awarding just under $2 million in grants to qualified museums and official county historical societies under the Cultural and Historic Support program. This is a one-year, interim grant program using funds placed in PHMC's operating budget by the state legislature and restricted for this purpose only. Working in concert with legislative leadership to determine the best way to distribute these limited funds, applicants must meet organizational eligibility requirements and awards are based on a calculation that uses the operating budget from the most recently completed fiscal year.


Eligible Organizations

  • Museums located in Pennsylvania with annual operating budgets exceeding $100,000 (excluding capital and in-kind services) and at least one full-time professional staff person (please refer to Who May Apply section to verify organization eligibility), and
  • Official County Historical Societies. If the operating budget is less than $300,000, the organization must apply as an Official County Historical Society. Official County Historical Societies with operating budgets in excess of $300,000 must apply as a Museum (please refer to Who May Apply section to verify organization eligibility).

Goals

  • Strengthen the Pennsylvania museum community
  • Provide general operating support to museum and official county historical societies that are not supported by other state agency funding programs
  • Provide financial support as unrestricted operating support to address primary needs of museums
  • Allow applicants to determine and describe how they will use funds
  • Keep application process fair and simple
  • Determine award amounts using an equation based on a percentage of the previous year's operating budget
  • Achieve geographical balance in the distribution of grants


Application Deadline -  Friday December 12, 2014.

All applications must be completed by Friday December 12, 2014 on PHMC's eGrant application system and hardcopy materials must be received by Friday December 19, 2014.


Grant Awards

As a general rule, no county shall receive an allocation greater than 37.5% of the available funds ($712,500 of the total $1,900,000). In counties that exceed this cap, individual grant awards may be reduced from the maximum award. Grant awards amounts are prepared by agency staff and submitted to the Commission for approval.

  • Museums - The awards for Museums are based on a calculation that uses the operating budget from the most recently completed fiscal year. Based on projected funding scenarios, awards may range from 1% to 2% of annual operating budget – depending on the number of eligible applicants. The maximum award for a museum is $65,000.
  • Official County Historical Societies - The awards for Official County Historical Societies range from $2,500 to $4,000. 

Availability of Funds

Grants awards are subject to the annual availability of funds from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


Who May Apply

Museums

Grant awards are a minimum of $3,000 and not to exceed $65,000.

Institutions that meet the American Association of Museums' definition that "a museum must be a legally organized nonprofit institution, essentially educational in nature, with professional staff, which owns or utilizes tangible objects, cares for them, and exhibits them to the public on some regular schedule" may apply for grant assistance. The following are the types of museums that are eligible to apply:

  • Children's Museums
  • General Museums (with two or more equally significant disciplines)
  • History Museums
  • Historic Houses/Sites
  • Military and Maritime Museums
  • Natural History Museums
  • Planetariums
  • Science/Technology Centers
  • Multipurpose Organizations. Individual museums within multipurpose government or tax-exempt organizations may apply for grants if they function as a discrete unit within the parent organization. A museum that is part of a larger organization will be deemed eligible if:
    • The museum has administrative autonomy for its operations;
    • The museum has a fully segregated and itemized operating budget within that of the parent organization; and
    • The museum is able to separately and distinctly fulfill all eligibility and application requirements as defined in these guidelines.

To apply for a Cultural and Historical Support grant, a museum must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be located in Pennsylvania;
  • Must have tax-exempt status (501(c)(3)) with the Internal Revenue Service or be an entity of local government;
  • Must have been incorporated and have been exhibiting to the public for at least two years prior to the submission of the grant application; and
  • Must have an operating budget in excess of $100,000;
  • Must have at least one full-time professional staff person;
  • Must be registered with the Pennsylvania Commission on Charitable Organizations, as required.

Official County Historical Societies

Grant awards are a minimum of $2,500 and not to exceed $4,000.

To apply for a Cultural and Historical Support grant, an Official County Historical Society must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be located in Pennsylvania;
  • Must have a designation of the organization as the official historical society for the county;
  • Must have been incorporated and operating for a minimum of two years as a membership group with at least 100 paid members prior to filing the grant application;
  • Must hold at least one public meeting per year;
  • Must have a properly adopted constitution and bylaws and have elected officers to conduct the business of the society;
  • Must have tax-exempt status (501(c)(3)) with the Internal Revenue Service;
  • Must have a permanent physical facility wherein books, documents, papers and other objects of historical interest are deposited and available to the public at least 100 days per year;
  • Must have at least one full-time paid or unpaid staff member or the equivalent who is responsible for the operations and programs of the society; and
  • Must sponsor programs relevant to county history including educational and public programs and have an active research and publications program.
  • Must be registered with the Pennsylvania Commission on Charitable Organizations, as required.


Who May Not Apply

Museums and others that are not eligible to apply include:

  • Art Museums, Aquariums, Arboretums, Botanical Gardens, Nature Centers, and Zoological Parks
  • Museums and historic sites operated by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
  • Associate groups at museums and historic sites operated by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
  • Management groups at museums and historic sites owned by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
  • Museums and historic sites operated by state or federal government agencies
  • Associate groups at museums and historic sites operated by state or federal government agencies
  • Museums with annual operating budgets less than $100,000
  • Consortiums of museums
  • Individuals


Eligible Activities

Operating support activities cannot begin until the successful applicant has received a fully executed Grant Agreement. Cultural and Historical Support Grants may be used to fund the following:

  • Salaries and Wages
  • Benefits
  • Insurance
  • Museum Store/Gift Shop
  • Food Service
  • Contractual
  • Professional Development
  • Travel
  • Printing and Publication
  • Telephone/Postage/All Telecommunications
  • Fundraising/Development
  • Marketing Supplies
  • Equipment


Ineligible Activities

Cultural and Historical Support Grants may not be used to fund the following:

  • Endowments
  • Acquisition of objects for the collections
  • Capital improvement projects
  • Projects that serve a religious purpose or promote religious dogma
  • Exhibitions or public programs not available to the public or taking place outside of Pennsylvania
  • Prizes and awards
  • Expenses for entertainment
  • Lobbying-related expenses