Skip to content

Eligibility for the Museum Assessment Program

Is my museum eligible to participate in MAP?

All types of general and specialized museums are eligible for MAP.

To participate in MAP (any Assessment type), a museum must:

  • be organized on a permanent basis for essentially educational or aesthetic purposes;
  • care for, and own or use, tangible objects, whether animate or inanimate, and make them available to the general public through exhibition and/or research on a regular basis at facilities it owns or operates
  • be a unit of state, local, or tribal government; or a private nonprofit organization with tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code.
  • have at least one professional staff member or the full-time equivalent, whether paid or unpaid, whose responsibilities relate solely to the museum’s operations
  • be open and providing museum services to the general public on a regular basis (a museum that exhibits objects to the general public for at least 90 days a year fulfills this requirement). If a museum is not scheduled to be open to the public 90 days a year, it is still eligible to participate in MAP if it can demonstrate that it was open at least 90 days in the preceding year through a combination of scheduled days open and days open by appointment; travelling exhibits, digital exhibits and access to online collections may also be considered. To account for COVID-19 related closures and opening limitations, 2021 and 2022 data will be considered to determine the 90 days open eligibility requirement. The application questions address both pre and post-COVID-19 schedules.
  • be located in one of the fifty states of the U.S., the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau; and
  • not be operated by the U.S. federal government.

Museums that do not meet the listed eligibility criteria or that would like participate outside of the posted deadlines/application cycle can still participate in a MAP on a fee-for-service basis. If you are interested in this non-IMLS (federally) subsidized option, please contact MAP staff at or 202-289-9118 for more information. All applications must be submitted online.

“The Museum Assessment Program helped our small tribal museum with the positive recommendations to implement short and long-term goals for the betterment of visitor services and collections management.  The assigned Peer Reviewer was a perfect match with her prior work experience and extensive knowledge of museum standards.  The MAP has allowed us the information to develop a strategic plan that is realistic and helps us to work on continual improvement.  We are very thankful for the assessment program and the added value it provides. Most significantly, the Pyramid Lake Museum was nominated for the 2019 National Medal for Museums, which is a credit to the assessment work.”

Billie Jean Guerrero, Museum Director, Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum and Visitors Center, NV.

Assessment-specific Eligibility Issues

In addition to these main criteria, there are some assessment-specific eligibility requirements (and recommended pre-requisites) for the following Assessments. Click for full details:

Collections Stewardship

Community & Audience Engagement

Education & Interpretation

Board Leadership

Museums with Parent Organizations

Museums that operate within a non-federal parent organization are eligible to apply and participate in MAP. A museum operated within a multi-purpose public or private nonprofit organization such as a municipality, university, historical society, foundation, or cultural center may apply if it:

Museums that operate within a non-federal parent organization are eligible to apply and participate in MAP. A museum operated within a multi-purpose public or private nonprofit organization such as a municipality, university, historical society, foundation, or cultural center may apply on its own behalf if it:

  • is able to independently fulfill all the requirements for eligibility listed above
  • is an identifiably discrete unit within the parent organization
  • has the authority to function and operate autonomously within the parent organization

When any of the eligibility criteria cannot be met, a museum may apply through its eligible parent organization, and the parent organization may apply(s) for one or more of its museums.

Is my museum eligible to do MAP again?

Yes! You can do a different assessment type or repeat one.

A different assessment: Museums are eligible to apply at any time.

Repeating the same assessment type: Museums are eligible to participate again in the same type of assessment when seven years have passed since the original assessment.

All applicants that have done a MAP previously are asked to demonstrate their accomplishments since their last assessment and explain why they are seeking a new assessment.

AAM Member-Only Content

AAM Members get exclusive access to premium digital content including:

  • Featured articles from Museum magazine
  • Access to more than 1,500 resource listings from the Resource Center
  • Tools, reports, and templates for equipping your work in museums
Log In

We're Sorry

Your current membership level does not allow you to access this content.

Upgrade Your Membership

Subscribe to Field Notes!

Packed with stories and insights for museum people, Field Notes is delivered to your inbox every Monday. Once you've completed the form below, confirm your subscription in the email sent to you.

If you are a current AAM member, please sign-up using the email address associated with your account.

Are you a museum professional?

Are you a current AAM member?

Success! Now check your email to confirm your subscription, and please add to your safe sender list.