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New Applicants

Museums thinking of applying for Accreditation should first consult with NI Museums Council and complete an Accreditation Eligibility Questionnaire.

To apply for the Scheme for the first time or reapply after a period of non-participation, your organisation must meet the definition of a museum:

‘Museums enable people to explore collections for inspiration, learning and enjoyment. They are institutions that collect, safeguard and make accessible artefacts and specimens, which they hold in trust for society’.

The museum must also meet the following criteria:

  • be based in the UK, Isle of Man or Channel Islands
  • be a physical site/space/building which is open to the public regularly
  • enable the public to see and engage with your museum’s collections
  • have an appropriate constitution which supports the long-term purpose of a public museum
  • be committed to making a full application for Accreditation within three years

If you meet all these criteria, you should first read more about eligibility for Accreditation, see pages 6-10 of the Accreditation guidance downloadable below. If you have queries about your eligibility, you can contact the Northern Ireland Accreditation Assessor, at or call on 028 9055 0215.

You should then complete and sign an eligibility questionnaire, downloadable below, and email it to us. We will assess your eligibility and may contact you for additional information; we usually let you know our decision within six weeks. If successful, we will confirm your organisation’s ‘Working Towards Accreditation’ status and you will be invited to apply.

Download Application Form and Guidance Notes

Eligibility Questionnaire

Download Questionnaire

Accreditation Standard 2018

Download Standard

Accreditation Guidance 2018

Download Guidance Notes
Size and Type of Museum

The Accreditation Scheme uses it’s own classification of size and type to determine what criteria museums will be assessed on.

To find out your museums size and type, see pages 11-15 in the Accreditation guidance.

If the museum doesn’t have a museum professional on the workforce, an Accreditation Mentor will be needed to meet the requirements of the Scheme. Contact NI Museums Council to find more information about mentors.

Questions for national & nationally-styled museums

National and nationally-styled museums should complete these 12 additional questions as well as demonstrating the rest of the Standard requirements have been met.

National and Nationally Styled Museums Additional Questions

Once you have been awarded Working Towards Accreditation status, and have established the size and type of your museum, you are ready to make a full application.

When you’re ready to apply, make sure you have the Accreditation Standard and refer to pages 20-78 in the Accreditation Guidance. These are both available to download on this page or from the Accreditation Documents Page.

If your museum is already Accredited, you will be invited to submit an Accreditation return every five years. See our Accreditation returns schedule to find out when your museum is due to be invited next.

Both first time and return applications are now made online via the Arts Council England(ACE) applications portal called Grantium.

Please read the Getting Started on Grantium document. You might also find it useful to watch the Getting Started on Grantium videos. There is technical support Telephone 0161 934 4317.

To get started on Grantium, museums and galleries will first need to set up a user account and applicant profile if they haven’t already used this before. Once validated, they’ll be able to start working on their application or return on Grantium.

The new terms and conditions for the Scheme have also been published. These are completed electronically as part of the declaration on Grantium when making a return or application so they don’t need to be signed offline and sent in.

Courtesy of Mid Antrim Museum
Assessment Process

NIMC assesses applications from local museums in Northern Ireland and prepares a report to present to the Accreditation panel.

We review of all information submitted and we often contact you to ask for more information or clarification.

All museums applying to the Accreditation Scheme for the first time will also receive a site visit for verification.

Site Visits

Site visits help us to gain a better understanding of your organisation. We visit all new applicants to the scheme, museums that have been through a period of significant change and a 10% sample of all returns.

We will let you know if we are planning on doing a site visit to your museum and will send you further information.

Award Outcomes

Once we have presented your report to the Accreditation panel, they will make a decision on your application.

There are a number of possible decisions they can make. For further information on Accreditation decisions see pages 82-84 in the Accreditation guidance.


Here you will find links to further information on the ACE website about how to apply for Accreditation for the first time, as well as how to complete an Accreditation Return, and a Provisional Review.

If you are applying for the first time or reapplying after a period of non-participation, please see:

New Applicants

If you already hold a Full Accreditation award, you will be invited to complete an Accreditation Return about every five years.

Please see: (for help on preparing your Accreditation Return)

Accreditation Returns

If you currently hold a Provisional Award, you will need to submit a Provisional Review by the deadline shown in your last outcome letter, usually 12 months from the date of the letter.

Please see: (for help on preparing your Accreditation Return)

Provisional Reviews