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GRANT OPPORTUNITY: Proposals Invited for Round Two of Innovation Lab for Museums

Deadline: 05/14/2012


The American Association of Museums’ Center for the Future of Museums, EmcArts, and the MetLife Foundation are accepting funding proposals for the second round of the Innovation Lab for Museums, a new initiative created to enable selected museums to design, research, and prototype novel approaches to field-wide adaptive challenges in a laboratory-like setting.


The initiative provides an eighteen- to twenty-four-month program for each of the participating institutions, utilizing the expertise of CFM and the proven experience of EmcArts in incubating organizational innovations in the cultural sector.


Proposals to the lab can address changes in programs, exhibits, operations, communications or governance. Innovative approaches to collaboration, restructuring, downsizing, or merging are welcome, as are proposals for new or expanded activities.


In this second round, three proposals will be funded, with preference given to projects focusing on innovation in the realms of youth education, demographic transformation, and participatory experiences.


During the lab program, EmcArts facilitators will work with teams from the selected museums comprised of senior managers, board representatives, museum staff, artists and scientists, educators, and/or representatives from inside and outside the cultural sector (such as community partners and end-users). The lab provides individual coaching, group facilitation, a five-day residential retreat, and a variety of extended support systems tailored to the needs of each organization.


The program is open to all nonprofit museums in the United States meeting the following requirements: they must be an incorporated nonprofit organization with no fewer than the equivalent of ten full-time staff members (generally equating to a minimum operating budget of around $1 million); be able to demonstrate stable programmatic and executive leadership for the last twelve months and continuity in board leadership (subject to term limits); and have no competing major institutional initiatives (e.g., a building move, a capital campaign). Successful applicants will demonstrate an organizational culture supportive of innovation and a track record of attempts at innovating (failed or successful).


The program provides grants of $40,000 toward project prototyping, and grants of up to $1,500 for conference travel to enable participants to share what they have learned from the lab experience. Financial support for the intensive retreat includes accommodations, meals, and up to $400 per person for travel; up to $3,000 per organization for fees, travel, and accommodation to support the participation of experts in organizational learning and teamwork at the retreat; and stipends of up to $1,200 per organization for members of the team who are not employed by the museum.


All applicants are strongly encouraged to seek feedback on their ideas and draft applications. Members of the EmcArts Lab team will provide telephone counseling on initial proposal ideas or general questions about the lab. Telephone counseling regarding an initial proposal concept will be offered from April 9 to April 27, 2012. Draft applications can be submitted from April 16 to May 1, 2012, with telephone feedback on submitted drafts available from April 17 to May 4, 2012. In addition, the program is offering in-person on-site counseling on April 31 and May 1 at the 2012 AAM Annual Meeting in St. Paul-Minneapolis, Minnesota.


The complete Request for Proposals, application procedures, and information on Round One lab participants are available at the EmcArts Web site.

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