General Operating Support Grants for Museums

General Operating Support Grants for Museums require no match and are restricted to museums with annual operating budgets exceeding $100,000 (excluding capital and in-kind services).

Museum Assistance Grant Program -- General Operating Support for Museums - Cancelled

Availability of Funds

Grants awards are subject to the annual availability of funds from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Funding is based on the state fiscal year, July through June. General Operating Support Grants for Museums are noncompetitive grants. To be eligible to receive funding, all applicants must meet eligibility requirements listed below. Grant award amounts determined by a formula based on a percentage of the museum's most recently completed fiscal year operating budget.

  • Aquariums
  • Arboretums
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Children's Museums
  • General Museums (with two or more equally significant disciplines)
  • History Museums
  • Historic Houses/Sites
  • Military and Maritime Museums
  • Natural History Museums
  • Nature Centers
  • Planetariums
  • Science/Technology Centers
  • Zoological Parks
  • Multipurpose Organizations. Individual museums (e.g. Morris Arboretum) within multipurpose government or tax-exempt organizations (e.g. University of Pennsylvania) 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.

More than one qualified museum within a multipurpose organization may apply for funding during the same grant cycle.

Who May Not Apply
Museums and others that are not eligible to apply include:

  • 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;
  • Museums receiving nonpreferred appropriations;
  • Consortiums of museums;
  • Art museums (Grants are available through the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.); and
  • Individuals.

Eligibility Requirements
To apply for a General Operating Support Grant for Museums, 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 be registered with the Pennsylvania Commission on Charitable Organizations, as required.
  • PHMC recommends that an Applicant prepare a PACDP profile if Applicant's operating budget is in excess of $500,000. For more information on the Pennsylvania Cultural Data Project, please go to the PACDP section of the PHMC Grants website at http://www.artsnet.org/phmc/PACDP.htm.

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) is in partnership with the Pennsylvania Cultural Data Project (PACDP) to develop reliable data about Pennsylvania's cultural and heritage community. The Pennsylvania Cultural Data Project (PACDP) is a collaborative project of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, the Heinz Endowments, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Pittsburgh Foundation, and the William Penn Foundation.

General Conditions
There are two general condition for General Operating Support Grants for Museums.

  • Museums with a yearly operating budget exceeding $100,000 (excluding capital funds and in-kind contributions) may apply for a General Operating Support Grant for Museums. Grant awards will not exceed $150,000 or 10 percent of the museum's most recently completed fiscal year operating budget if less than $1,500,000.
  • Operating support activities cannot begin until the successful applicant has received a fully executed Grant Agreement.

Eligible Activities
General Operating Support Grants can help underwrite an eligible museum's general operating expenses. Applicants should select from the list of allowable expenses and indicate the amount of funding that will be applied to each category. The following expenses are eligible:

  • Salary, wages, and benefit expenses
  • Contracted services
  • Printing, publicity and marketing
  • Postage and telephone
  • Website maintenance
  • Staff training
  • Mortgage interest
  • Equipment purchase under $5,000, installation and lease (e.g. computers, office furnishings, files)
  • Operating costs for utilities and HVAC
  • Building and grounds maintenance
  • Travel and transportation
  • Insurance
  • Licensing and registration
  • Audits
  • General office supplies

Applicants must choose from the above list of eligible activities and enter the figures under the appropriate heading on the Grant Budget page of the eGrant application form. Other activities need to be pre-approved by the GOS Grant Manager.

Ineligible Activities
General Operating Support Grants for Museums 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

Maximum Number of Awards
Eligible applicants may apply for and may receive under the Pennsylvania History and Museum Grant Program one General Operating Support Grant for Museums and one type of Project Support Grant. The applicant may also serve as the lead partner of a collaborative project grant.

Applicants meeting the relevant eligibility requirements may apply for and may receive one grant under the Certified Local Government Grant Program and one grant under the Keystone Historic Preservation Grant Program.

Please take the time to read the material provided on this website to determine if you are eligible to receive other grants from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

Applications
Applicants for General Operating Support Grants for Museums are required to use the web-based electronic grant application process. Exceptions are generally only made for those applicants who do not have access to the necessary equipment. Exceptions must be discussed in advance with the appropriate grants manager. (See the section entitled Directory for names, telephone numbers and email addresses.)

The electronic grant application process has been in use for several years now and provides a mechanism for you to complete your grant application on-line. It is a relatively simple process that allows you to submit your application as late as midnight of the appointed deadline date. Commission staff can also review your application while in progress and are available to assist you and answer questions.

You may obtain additional information about the Commission's grant programs by calling the appropriate grant program manager.

To download a PDF of the General Operating Support for Museums Grant Application Click Here.

Who May Apply
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: