Now Accepting Proposals: Round 3 of the Innovation Lab for Museums

Is your museum facing a complex challenge with no obvious solution? Apply to the Lab by June 5, 2013.

ILM R2 Screencap
Deep thinking takes place during the 5-day retreat, a component of the Innovation Lab for Museums program.

The American Alliance of Museums’ (AAM) Center for the Future of Museums (CFM), EmcArts and MetLife Foundation announce the third round of a new initiative created to enable selected museums to design, research and prototype innovations, testing novel approaches to field-wide challenges in a laboratory-like setting. The initiative, the Innovation Lab for Museums, is now accepting proposals. The deadline for Round 3 proposals is June 5, 2013.

Download the Request for Proposals

The inaugural round of the Innovation Lab began its work in January of 2012 with three museums: The Levine Museum of the New South (Charlotte, NC), the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City, MO) and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco, CA). The second round followed mid-year with another three museums: Madison Children’s Museum (Madison, WI), the Mississippi Museum of Art (Jackson, MS) and the National Trust for Historic Preservation (Washington, DC).

This round of the Innovation Lab for Museums is again generously funded by a $500,000 grant from MetLife Foundation, a long-time supporter of the nation’s museum community. The Foundation has to date committed over $1.5 million to the field via the Innovation Lab.

About the Innovation Lab for Museums

The Innovation Lab for Museums is a 12-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. In this third round of the Lab, three proposals will be accepted and preference will be given to projects focusing on innovation in the realms of:

  • Youth Education: exploring how museums can play a key role in a rapidly changing educational landscape
  • Demographic Transformation: how museums can close this gap and serve a broader, more inclusive representation of American society
  • Participatory Experiences: how museums can meet the desire of audiences for participatory and social activities in museums.

Proposals will be judged on evidence that applicants have clearly defined a major adaptive challenge and begun to develop responses to that challenge, on each applicant’s readiness for and ability to support innovative change, their current level of community engagement, the likely value of the innovation to the museum and to the field, and the capacity of the applicant to share what they learn through participating in the Lab.

We encourage you to review these helpful resources on ArtsFwd, which are made available to you to help you decide whether or not to apply to the Innovation Lab:

  • Our podcast with EmcArts President Richard Evans, in which we review the guiding principles of the Innovation Lab and tips for developing an application
  • Our DIY activity, complete with instructions and worksheets, to use in order to identify your organization’s adaptive challenge

Download the Press Release


Liz Dreyer is the Senior Program Manager at EmcArts, managing the Community Innovation Labs as well as the Arts Leaders as Cultural Innovators (ALACI) program. She is also a Process Facilitator in the New Pathways programs.