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Content provided by the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
45.301 Museums for America




Museum and Library Services Act of 1996, Title II, Public Law 104-208.
OBJECTIVES: Click here for help!
To support the efforts of museums to conserve the Nation's historic, scientific, and cultural heritage; to maintain and expand museums and libraries educational roles; and to ease the financial burden borne by museums and libraries as a result of their increasing use by the public.


Direct Payments with Unrestricted Use.
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To make unrestricted General Operating Support (GOS) grants to museums. GOS grants are 2-year competitive awards made on an annual basis to maintain or improve the operations of museums; successful applicants are not eligible for the subsequent year's competition.


Applicant Eligibility:   A museum located in the 50 States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands, Guam, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, The Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, or the District of Columbia may apply for a grant under the Act. No museum is eligible to apply for General Operating Support or Conservation Project Support funding under the Act unless it has provided museum services including exhibiting objects to the general public on a regular basis for at least 2 years prior to application. A public or private nonprofit organization, such as a municipality, college, or university which is responsible for the operation of a museum may, if necessary, apply on behalf of the museum. A museum operated by a department or agency of the Federal government is not eligible to apply. Under the IMLS definition, a museum is a public or private nonprofit institution which is organized on a permanent basis for essentially educational or aesthetic purposes and which, using a professional staff: (1) Owns or uses tangible objects, whether animate or inanimate; (2) cares for these objects; and (3) exhibits them to the general public on a regular basis. A museum must have at least one staff member, paid or unpaid, who devotes his or her time primarily to the acquisition, care or exhibition of objects. The definition makes clear that the term "museum" includes aquariums and zoological parks; botanical gardens and arboretums; nature centers; art, history, (including historic buildings and sites), natural history, children's, general and specialized museums, science and technology centers and planetariums.

Beneficiary Eligibility:   Public nonprofit museums and private nonprofit museums.

Credentials/Documentation:   Costs will be determined in accordance with OMB Circular No. A-87 for State and local governments. OMB Circular No. A-21 for educational institutions and other nonprofit organizations also applies.

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Pre-application Coordination:   The standard application forms as furnished by the Federal agency and required by OMB Circular No. A-102 must be used for this program. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.

Application Procedure:   Applications are submitted directly to the Institute of Museum and Library Services, 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Room 609, Washington, DC 20506. Telephone: (202)606-8539. For General Operating Support, a museum must submit the designated application form containing the information requested in the form. This form requests a description of the museum including its purposes, programs, collections, audience served and the number and general duties of the staff. As part of the application each applicant museum must submit a financial statement for the 2 fiscal years immediately preceding the fiscal year for which application is made. Prior grant recipients must also submit an audited financial statement in addition to those in the application. Description of long-range plans for program and financial development must also be provided. This program is subject to the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-110.

Award Procedure:   Proposals are reviewed by field reviewers, panels of experts, and the Director to determine the grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements awarded by IMLS to eligible applicants.

Deadlines:   Contact the Institute of Museum and Library Services for deadlines at (202) 606-8539 or

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time:   From 7 months.

Appeals:   Appeals may be made in writing to the Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Renewals:   It is anticipated that no extensions will be allowed for General Operating Support awards.


Formula and Matching Requirements:   45 CFR 1180. The maximum grant is currently $112,500 or up to 15 percent of the applicant museum's nonfederal operating income, whichever is less, through the General Operating Support Program.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance:   GOS Grants are awarded in quarterly payments on a 2-year basis.


Reports:   The IMLS requires final financial and narrative reports from General Operating Support recipients.

Audits:   All applicants who have previously received an IMLS grant (excluding MAP and CAP grants) must submit their audited financial statement for the last fiscal year immediately preceding the fiscal year in which application is made or the preceding fiscal year, prepared by an individual or organization meeting the qualifications of the Comptroller General of the United States for individuals or organizations conducting Government audits. Reference is made to GAO, "Standards for Audit of Government Organizations, Programs and Functions."

Records:   Grant and contract recipients will be required to maintain standard and financial statements.


Account Identification:   59-0300-0-1-503.

Obligations:   (Grants) FY 01 $15,610,000; FY 02 est $15,517,000; and FY 03 est $15,483,000.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance:  
Between $5,000 and $150,000.

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For fiscal year 2001, 826 GOS applications were received and 178 were funded.


Final regulations are codified in 45 CFR 1180.


Regional or Local Office:   Not applicable.

Headquarters Office:  
Connie Bodner 955 L'Enfant Plaza North, SW Suite 4000, Washington, District of Columbia 20024 Email: Phone: 202-653-4636

Web Site Address:


General Operating Support for an exploratorium, a planetarium, and an art museum.


The following criteria apply to the evaluation of all applications for General Operating Support: I. Audience: (1) How does the museum reach an appropriately broad and diverse audience? (2) How are the levels of public participation in the services the museum provides appropriate to its audience and activities? II. Collections: (1) How do the museum's collections support the statement of purpose? (2) What is the significance of the collections to the museum's community and constituencies? III. Exhibitions: (1) How do the museum's exhibitions support the statement of purpose? (2) How are exhibitions developed and evaluated? IV. Management and Care: (1) What are the museum's policies and practices for the responsible care and management of collections? (2) How are the collections used? (3) What are the museum's policies and practices for the responsible care and management of its exhibits? (4) What is the significance of the exhibits to the museum's community and constituents? (5) What is the extent, purpose, and use of research by staff, visitors, and scholars? V. Education: (1) How do the museum's education programs support the statement of purpose? (2) How are educational programs developed, disseminated, and evaluated? VI. Physical Facilities/Safety and Security: (1) How does the museum use its physical resources in providing museum services to the general public and specialized audiences? (2) What practices and schedules does the museum follow to ensure the proper care and maintenance of its physical plant? (3) How does the museum ensure the safety of its staff, visitors, facilities, and collections? VII. Staff: (1) How are the qualifications, responsibilities, and professional activities of the museum's permanent, professional staff appropriate to the museum's mission? (2) What personnel policies and practices does the museum follow? (3) How does the museum select, recruit, train, and use supplementary staff? VIII. Governance and Management/Financial Management: (1) How is the museum's governing authority appropriate to the museum's mission and operation? (2) How is the museum's management structure appropriate to the museum's mission and operation? (3) What is the museum's financial condition? (4) What are the museum's procedures for budgetary development and control? IX. Support: (1) How does the community's non-cash support of the museum operations demonstrate commitment to the museum's services? (2) How does the museum acquire non-federal financial support? X. Long-Range Plan: (1) How does the long-range plan support the mission of the museum? (2) How does the museum develop, implement, and update the long-range plan? (3) How will GOS funds, if awarded this year, be used to further the museum's purpose?

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