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Building Capacity, Creating Sustainability, Growing Accessibility

About the Project

We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged every museum in our state. We also know that people who work in museums are the most creative, resourceful, and responsive group of professionals in the cultural sector. 

The Museum Association of New York designed Building Capacity, Creating Sustainability, Growing Accessibility to help you successfully respond to one of the biggest challenges created by the pandemic: how to reach audiences who cannot physically visit your museum. 

Even if you are doing successful virtual programming now, this is a low-risk opportunity to experiment with new forms and delivery systems without any financial commitment. It is a new opportunity for cross-departmental collaboration and training for staff whose responsibilities may have been reassigned or adapted in response to the pandemic. 

How it Works

1. You identify stories from your collections that reveal cultural and racial diversity within your community.

2. You develop a public program for any audience. The story you tell is up to you.

3. You are given the training and tools to reach your community--and beyond--virtually with:

  • Two years of free access to Adobe Creative Suite, Google Suite Enterprise, and Zoom Enterprise—the most comprehensive level of software available.
  • Training includes practical implementation, program development coaching, exemplary models, and individualized assessments.
  • Other equipment that can include WiFi boosters, headphones, and microphones.
  • Hardware includes iPad pros with keyboards.


4. Using these tools, museums will design two virtual programs over two years. Museums will partner with a local library to develop and implement one of these programs to help reach a greater audience.

Your museum is eligible to apply...

  • If you are located in New York State
  • If you are located in or serve a high needs district
  • Museums of any type and budget size are eligible to apply
Click here to see our Frequently Asked Questions section

Click here to read our Press Release

Click here to check if your museum is located in or serves a high needs district

Please note MANY is not regranting IMLS funds. This project is an in-depth partnership for two years designed to strengthen museum virtual programs. In addition to the training, museums will receive hardware and software equivalent to a $5,000 in-kind donation.

Program Commitments

The training for two staff members (or one staff and one volunteer) is designed for museum professionals. Individualized coaching, peer to peer learning, exemplary models, and iterative program development will support program implementation.

Staff will dedicate one morning a week for two years. In the second year of the project, the museum will identify a library partner to develop a program that builds on the assets of both organizations.

Participants do not need to be in the same department; cross departmental collaboration is encouraged. No prior experience with technology is necessary. The goal of the program is to give the staff the tools and training to virtually reach their communities and raise their profile with audiences beyond their physical locations.

Museums will have until March of 2021 to identify content and begin program development. It is our goal to have participants ready to begin delivery in May of 2021, if not sooner. 

One of the museum’s participants may be a volunteer who commits to the in-person and virtual training, program development, and delivery.

Program Requirements

Over the course of this two year project, two staff from each museum will participate in:

  • three in-person meetings
        • at the beginning of Year One,
        • at the beginning of Year Two,
        • at the end of Year Three
  • 15 group virtual training meetings
  • bi-monthly one-on-one conversations

How to apply

We've extended the deadline to apply! Applications due by 5 PM Friday, October 30th.

Project participants will be notified by November 4. 

We will use November and December to meet virtually with project participant teams, deliver hardware, and coach teams through software implementation.

In-person meetings will begin in January in centrally located facilities that can safely accommodate our small groups. 

Please submit your completed application via email to imlscares@nysmuseums.org

Click here to download the application form as a PDF

Click here to download the application form as a Word Document


Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find out if my museum is located or serves a high needs district?

You can visit nysmuseums.org/imls and click on the link to check if your museum is located in or serves a high needs district. High needs districts are designated by the New York State Education Department. Not sure, call or email us and we can help you find out!

How long is the project? When does it start?

This is a two year project extending through September 2022. We’ll notify museum partner applicants of their acceptance on Wednesday, November 4th and our first official meetings will begin in January with some preliminary conversations in November and December. 

Do I need to be tech savvy?

No prior experience with technology is necessary. The goal of the program is to give the staff the tools and training to virtually reach their communities and raise their profile with audiences beyond their physical locations.

Can the project participants be a staff and a volunteer?

Yes! Participants do not need to be in the same department and could be two staff members or one staff person and a volunteer. It will take about 10% of a staff persons time over two years.

What is the project commitment?

Two staff members or one staff person and a volunteer and approximately 10% of full time employment or three hours a week over two years. You will need WiFi access that can be boosted if needed.

Do I need a library partner when I apply?

No, you don’t need to have a library partner already committed when you apply! Our museum partners will begin working with their library colleagues in March of 2021, so if you have a local library already in mind, that’s great, but it’s not an application requirement and you’ll have a few months to do some outreach and confirm a partner before you begin working together.

When do I need to know my content and program?

Museums will have until March of 2021 to identify content and begin program development. It is our goal to have participants ready to begin delivery in May of 2021, if not sooner. 



This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [CAGML-246991-OMLS-20]. 

About IMLS

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's approximately 120,000 libraries and 35,000 museums and related organizations. The agency’s mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Its grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Museum Association of New York strengthens the capacity of New York State’s cultural community by supporting professional standards and organizational development. We provide advocacy, training, and networking opportunities so that museums and museum professionals may better serve their missions and communities.

Museum Association of New York is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. 

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