Application Guidelines - Exhibition Circulation Fund

Museums Assistance Program

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Objectives and expected results for the Museums Assistance Program

The Museums Assistance Program (MAP) supports heritage institutions and workers in the preservation and presentation of heritage collections in Canada. The Program provides financial assistance to Canadian museums and related institutions for activities that:

  • facilitate Canadians' access to our heritage;
  • foster the preservation of Canada's diverse and rich cultural heritage (other than built heritage), including representative collections of Indigenous cultural heritage; and
  • foster professional knowledge, skills and practices related to key museum functions.

Expected results could include activities that achieve the:

  • development and circulation of Canadian travelling exhibitions and associated interpretive material;
  • preservation and presentation of Indigenous cultural heritage;
  • implementation of key collections management systems; and
  • sharing of best practices related to key museum functions, to the benefit of multiple institutions.

Objectives and expected results for the Exhibition Circulation Fund component

The Exhibition Circulation Fund component of the Museum Assistance Program (MAP) assists museums with the costs related to the hosting travelling exhibitions originating from another museum or from a federal heritage institution and the borrowing of artefact(s) from any of the National museums of Canada for exhibition purposes.

Application deadline

There is no established deadline date to submit a funding application under the Exhibition Circulation Fund component, as applications are accepted on a continuous basis. However, you should submit your application at least four months prior to the proposed start date. Please take this into account when planning your project.

Who can apply

To be eligible for funding for hosting a travelling exhibition, your organization must be an incorporated, non-profit Canadian museumMuseums note * which:

  • provides services to the public year-round;
  • employs the equivalent of at least one full-time paid professional staff; and
  • has policies for key museum functions.

To be eligible for funding for borrowing artefact(s), your organization must be an incorporated, non-profit Canadian museum which:

  • has policies for key museum functions; and
  • has a loan agreement or a letter of intent with any of the National museum of Canada.


We are responsible for determining the eligibility of each applicant, its project and project-related expenses.

The Exhibition Circulation Fund component is highly competitive. Requests for funding typically exceed our available resources. If your organization is eligible, submitting an application does not guarantee funding.

Eligible projects

To be eligible for funding from the Exhibition Circulation Fund for hosting a travelling exhibition, your project must:

  • host a travelling exhibition originating from another museum or from a federal heritage institution, on the condition that the circulation of the exhibition to the borrowing venue was not funded by MAP as part of an exhibition development project. For travelling art exhibitions, only projects that are retrospective or present a historical perspective are eligible.

To be eligible for funding from the Exhibition Circulation Fund for borrowing artefact(s), your project must:

  • borrow artefact(s) from any National museum of Canada for exhibition purposes.

Eligible expenses

Only project-related expenses, which can be of cash and in-kind value are eligible.

For hosting a travelling exhibition, these expenses may include:

  • rental fees;
  • costs related to transportation, packing and crating, setting-up/dismantling an exhibition and temporary storage when necessary;
  • installation;
  • special security costs;
  • additional insurance;
  • equipment rental, incremental administration costs, promotion and communication expenses;
  • translation of material aimed at the public in both official languages and in another language meant to reach specific groups if applicable; and
  • creation of education materials, media kits and marketing materials in conjunction with the travelling exhibition.

For borrowing artefact(s), these expenses may include:

  • rental fees;
  • packing and transportation (consolidation and dispersal included);
  • installation;
  • special security costs;
  • additional insurance; and
  • marketing.

Ineligible expenses for both activities include:

  • development costs for project proposals or applications under the MAP or other federal programs;
  • costs (or category of costs), if the institution originating the exhibition has already received funding for the same expense (or category of expenses) from the Access to Heritage component or Indigenous Heritage (through a circulation project);
  • Design, production, presentation, promotion, or circulation of contemporary visual art exhibitions (with the exception of exhibitions that are retrospective or that present a historical perspective);
  • ongoing operations and day-to-day collections management activities;
  • feasibility and market study costs;
  • capital projects;
  • hospitality;
  • taxes; and
  • salaries from federal departments, Crown corporations and agencies.

In-kind contributions are considered real contributions to the cost of the proposed project but are not reimbursable. Donated goods and services may be considered in-kind contributions if they:

  • are essential to your project's success;
  • are eligible and would otherwise have to be purchased or paid for by you;
  • can be measured at fair market value (i.e. in relation to similar goods and services); and
  • are balanced by an equal revenue in your budget (i.e. total in-kind expenses equal total in-kind revenues).

We cannot fund expenses incurred before we receive your application. If you incur expenses for your project before receiving written confirmation of your funding approval, you will be doing so at your own risk.

Limits of government assistance

To ensure the success of your project, we encourage you to have other funding sources. This may include contributions from your organization, the private sector or other levels of government.

The total financial assistance received from the Exhibition Circulation Fund component of the MAP and other levels of government (federal, provincial/territorial and municipal) cannot exceed 100 % of your total project-related costs.

Project funding under the Exhibition Circulation Fund for hosting a travelling exhibition from another museum will not normally exceed 70% of eligible expenses.

Project funding for hosting a travelling exhibition
Maximum funding per project $15,000
Maximum project duration n/a
Project funding for borrowing artefacts
Maximum funding per project $15,000
Maximum project duration n/a

Project funding under the Exhibition Circulation Fund for borrowing artefact(s) from any of the National museums of Canada will not normally exceed 70% of eligible expenses. For small museums with annual operating budgets of less than $500,000, we can fund up to 100% of eligible expenses for a maximum of $15,000 per project.

There is no yearly limit to the number of projects for which an organization may apply.

In exceptional circumstances, we can fund up to 85% of eligible expenses per project. The specific funding criteria related to exceptional circumstances include:

  • projects benefiting remote or rural areas; and
  • projects targeting under-served communities and population (e.g. youth, official language minority communities, Indigenous, ethno-cultural communities) where need is clearly demonstrated and justified.

Applying for more than 12 months

You may request funding for the same activities for a number of fiscal years. You must show that you have the capacity to complete the planned activities on an annual basis. This is demonstrated with realistic results and budget projections as well as sound governance and continued financial viability. 

How to apply

Read these Application Guidelines in their entirety before completing your application. 

You must meet all eligibility requirements and submit a complete application package to be considered for funding.

A complete application package using the online portal includes the following completed documents, signed by an authorized person:

  • the Application Form and Checklist;
  • the Project Budget Form, and;
  • your supporting documents:
    • copies of most recent documents as requested in the application checklist, including copies of all available quotes, to justify any procurement costs;
    • exhibition loan agreement(s);
    • your most recent financial statements (audited if available); and
    • a disclosure regarding the participation of any former public office holder or public servant subject to the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment.

Where an applicant submits more than one project, an order of priority must be clearly indicated.

Application process

Canadian Heritage Funding Portal

Your application, including all supporting documents, can be submitted electronically through the Canadian Heritage Funding Portal.

Should you be unable to access the new online system or apply online for any reason, please contact our support team at the coordinates provided in the Contact Us section below.

How applications are evaluated

We fund projects that have clear objectives and measurable results. Your application will be reviewed for eligibility before being evaluated using the national standard criteria described below. It will be compared with other applications from your region.

Failure to comply with any conditions of a previously funded project will be considered in the evaluation of your new application and could result in the rejection of your new application.

Evaluation criteria

We will evaluate all eligible applications based on merit, Program priorities and availability of funds using the following criteria:

Relevance and community engagement

  • your project helps achieve the organization's mandate;
  • your project responds to a demonstrated need;
  • support/interest from other funders or partners is shown (documented if possible); and
  • the target audience for your project and the methods to reach it (if applicable) are clearly identified and realistic.

Project planning and management

  • your organization is able to carry out the project and has engaged appropriate experience and expertise (personnel and consultants);
  • the timeline and resources are adequate; and
  • sound project management methods are demonstrated, including risk management.

Project budget

  • the forecasted budget/cash flow is comprehensive;
  • value for money is demonstrated, expenses are justified and reasonable; and
  • all contributions are clearly identified and realistic (applicant, partners and other sources).

Impact and evaluation strategy

  • outputs and outcomes are identified, clear and reasonable; and
  • your application includes an articulated evaluation strategy that is linked to outcomes and outputs (indicators, data collection, etc.).

Organization's capacity

  • financial stability is demonstrated; and
  • your organization is professionally managed with clearly defined governance structure, administration and policies.

You are also invited to explore the possibility of circulating exhibitions to non-traditional spaces, such as schools and community centres.

Application processing time

Please refer to the Service standards for Canadian Heritage funding programs or contact the Program.

Funding decisions

We reserve the right to target our funding to specific projects. Please note that decisions regarding eligibility and funding amounts are final. 

How funding is provided

We will determine if funding will be disbursed as a grant or as a contribution.

A grant is a payment issued to a recipient for a project. The conditions you agreed to at the time of application will apply. At the end of your project, you may be required to submit a report and/or participate in the evaluation of results.

A contribution is a conditional payment issued for a specific purpose, as outlined in a funding agreement. The agreement is signed by your organization and by us, and specifies the terms and conditions to receive payment. At the end of your project, you must submit a final report.

Funding conditions

You may be required to submit interim reports during your project and a final report is required if the funding is a contribution.

All products being presented to the public must be developed in both official languages. Applicants are also encouraged to develop exhibitions in other languages relevant to the project.

Institutions receiving funding through this component must post on their website the availability and touring history of the exhibition as well as basic information for potential borrowers, including dimensions, special requirements and available interpretive products.

Once funding is approved, payment requests for the circulation of exhibitions will need to include copies of the signed loan agreement(s).

Additional conditions may apply and, if applicable, will be included in your funding agreement.

Workplace well-being

The Government of Canada is strongly committed to promoting healthy workplaces where harassment, abuse and discrimination are not tolerated. Organizations that receive funding from Canadian Heritage must take measures to create a workplace free from harassment, abuse and discrimination.

Official languages requirements

We are committed to taking positive measures to enhance the vitality of official language minority communities and to promote the use of English and French in Canadian society. If you receive funding, you agree to comply with the official languages requirements set out in your application and in your funding agreement.

Acknowledgement of financial assistance

If you receive funding, you must publicly acknowledge – in English and in French – the financial support received from the Government of Canada in all communications materials and promotional activities. Additional requirements may be included in your funding agreement.

For additional information, please refer to our Guide on the public acknowledgement of financial support.

Access to information requests

We are subject to the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. The information you submit in your application may be disclosed in accordance with these acts.

Disclosure of information

By submitting your funding application, you authorize us to disclose any information submitted with this application within the Government of Canada or to outside entities for the following purposes:

  • to reach a decision.
  • to evaluate the results of the project; and
  • to support transparency, accountability and citizen engagement.

Audits of recipients and evaluation of the Program

We reserve the right to audit your accounts and records to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of your funding agreement. We also conduct periodic Program evaluations, during which you may be required to present documentation.

You must keep any records, documents, or other information that may be required to perform the audit or the evaluation for five years. Demonstrated failure to maintain such records may result in the repayment of amounts previously received.

Contact us

For further information for the Exhibition Circulation Fund, contact the nearest regional office of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

For Borrowing Artefact(s), please send a message to:


Department of Canadian Heritage
Museums Assistance Program – Exhibition Circulation Fund
25 Eddy St
Gatineau QC  J8X 4B5



1-866-811-0055 (toll-free)


1-888-997-3123 (for people who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired)

Agents are available to answer your questions Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET).


2SLGBTQI+ communities
Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Plus. This is the acronym used by the Government of Canada to refer to the Canadian community.
Review of something (e.g., a process, an organization) in terms of compliance, accuracy and effectiveness, to determine whether it is working well and achieving its intended purpose.
Audited financial report
An audited financial report includes a statement of operations for the given period regarding the project and is prepared by a certified accountant who is not part of your organization.
Audited financial statements
A complete set of financial statements, including a statement of financial position; a statement of operations; and a statement of changes in financial position. Audited financial statements are completed by a certified accountant who is not part of your organization. The certified accountant performs auditing activities in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards.
Borrowing of artefact(s)
Loan of one or more artefacts from any National museums of Canada collections.
Built heritage
Built heritage includes the sites, structures and monuments that are recognized for their historic significance. Federal built heritage consists mainly of heritage buildings and national historic sites. These include buildings, battlegrounds, forts, archaeological sites, canals and historic districts.
Business plan
A written document that describes your organization's status and plans for two to five years. It identifies future opportunities and includes the financial, operational and marketing strategies to achieve your goals.
Canadian participant
Paid professional employee from applicant organization or from Canadian organizations that are officially involved in the project (applies under Canada-France Agreement only).
Cash flow
A presentation of all expected revenues and planned expenses that will occur over the length of your project. At the beginning of your project, your cash flow will have only forecasted revenues and expenses. Over time, your cash flow will be updated to reflect the actual revenues and expenses.
Collections management system
Collection management systems (CMS) are software programs designed to aid in the documentation and management of objects in a museum collection.
Conceptual stage
First phase of exhibition development where ideas are collected and compared with audience needs and organization's mission; the scope of the exhibition is determined (subject matter, primary thesis and main communication objectives); the projected audience is determined; the schedule is set; and potential or available resources are identified.
Contemporary visual art exhibition
Exhibition for which the principal focus is the contemporary art production of living artists, and for which less than 75% of the artefacts or the visual art works are drawn from public/private collections (other than the artist's collection); and less than 90% of the visual arts works or artefacts featured in the exhibition have been created more than 10 years prior to the date of application.
Individuals or groups of individuals with specialized knowledge and/or skills. They are not part of an organization's staff, management or board, but rather are contracted for a fee to provide specific services to an organization.
Digital Content Development
A process that creates, organizes, and edits digitized assets and other information together to produce and distribute digital content that will entertain, inspire, educate, and persuade audiences and that will help an institution meet its specific goals. Digital content is often delivered online and can be published using a variety digital programs, platforms, and channels, either as a single occurrence or simultaneously. Digital content opportunities are limited only by available technology and can include social media posts, virtual exhibitions, interactive media, collection portals, apps, games, immersive environments, and other digitally enabled experiences.
The act of making a copy of or converting analogue information into a digital format. For example, digitization can occur by scanning 2D images or documents, or converting audio tape oral history recordings into digital formats. It can also refer to digitally photographing or 3D scanning objects, buildings, and natural features, or capturing a performance on video. Digitized outputs are often referred to as “digital assets”.
Digitization Strategy
A considered plan to guide the digitization of an institution’s analogue collections and assets, as well as the potential use and preservation of the digital assets once created. Its scope can be broad, encompassing an institution’s entire asset base, or it can be concentrated, focusing on a department, collection or aspect of a collection. The strategy outlines the goals for digitization and provides direction on what collections and assets should be prioritized for conversion, as well as what digital format(s) they should take. Digitization priorities are typically influenced by public interest, uniqueness/opportunity, object condition, and institutional need (e.g. for exhibitions, programs, online content, etc.), as well as other considerations for rights and permissions, and financial and technical feasibility. Some strategies may also include a detailed action plan for how the organization will execute this work, including any resources (i.e. people, equipment, budget, timelines, policies, etc.), operational changes or investments necessary.
Documents related to the exhibition and made available to the public, such as exhibition catalogues, synopsis, brochures and pamphlets.
Emergency assistance
Financial assistance provided to help an institution undertake urgent remedial action to maintain the integrity of its collection and mitigate damage sustained following a natural disaster (e.g. forest fire, flood, earthquake).
Ethnocultural communities

A group of people whose members identify with each other through a common heritage. An ethnocultural community or group is defined by the shared characteristics unique to, and recognized by, that group. This includes characteristics such as cultural traditions, ancestry, language, national identity, and/or country of origin.

To the extent that religion is inextricably linked to the group's racial or cultural identity, it can also be recognized as a defining characteristic. In some cases, a group may view its common origin as pan-national, or it may be based on geographic region of origin.

Ethnocultural communities may or may not overlap with racialized communities (See definition of racialized communities).

Evaluation strategy
Selection, development, and ongoing use of performance measures to make judgments about relevance, progress, cost-effectiveness and success of a project in meeting its defined objectives. A strategy should include outputs, outcomes, definitions of what will be measured, data sources, methodologies for gathering data and other relevant information. Please refer to Reporting requirements and Evaluation criteria section.
Final report
A final report is submitted at the end of your project based on the requirements in the funding agreement. Your final report needs to provide the results of the activities you have undertaken for the duration of your project.
Final financial report
A final financial report includes, as separate items, the budget as well as all the revenues realized, and expenditures incurred for the given period with regard to the Project being funded.
Financial statements
A complete set of financial statements, including a statement of financial position; a statement of operations; and a statement of changes in financial position. Financial statements may be audited or unaudited.
In-kind contribution

A real contribution to the cost of the proposed project but is not reimbursable as no monies change hands. Donated goods and services may be considered in-kind contribution if:

  • They are essential to project’s success;
  • They would otherwise have to be purchased or paid for by the funding recipient;
  • They can be measured at fair market value (i.e., in relation to similar goods and services); and
  • They are balanced by an equal expense in the project budget (i.e. total in-kind expenses equal total in-kind revenues)
Incremental administration costs
Costs which organizations would not incur other than to comply with project administrative requirements. These costs may include expenses for material or other items associated with the provision of goods or services. Maximum 15% of eligible project expenses (e.g. book keeping, project accounting, long distance calls, ink cartridges, temporary subscriptions to publications or specialized services).
Indigenous communities
Indigenous communities include First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities.
Indigenous governing bodies
First Nation governments, Band Councils or Tribal Councils, Inuit and Métis equivalent governing organizations.
Indigenous organizations
Non-profit organizations with a mandate to support and preserve Indigenous heritage.
Interim reports
Interim reports are submitted during your project based on the requirements in the funding agreement. Your interim report will provide the results of the activities you have undertaken for a specific period, a report on the status of work to be accomplished and include updated revenue and expense reports.
Key museum functions
Standard established practices in main areas of collections-related activities within a museum or heritage organization, such as acquisition, conservation, research, collections information management, exhibitions and education.
Letter of intent
Written statement presented from a venue to the applicant institution acknowledging serious intent, willingness and ability to enter into a formal agreement. The letter should include a brief description of the project and the nature of the collaboration between the two institutions, including financial considerations and the timeline for implementing the project. The document does not constitute a definitive contract; it is subject to due diligence and fulfillment of certain conditions.
Minor capital assets
Material goods with a depreciable value amortized over a period of time but not built into the fabric or shell of a building. Minor capital assets must relate directly to the proposed project (including specialized equipment, such as cameras, scanners, livestreaming equipment).
A museum is a not-for-profit, permanent institution in the service of society that researches, collects, conserves, interprets and exhibits tangible and intangible heritage. Open to the public, accessible and inclusive, museums foster diversity and sustainability. They operate and communicate ethically, professionally and with the participation of communities, offering varied experiences for education, enjoyment, reflection and knowledge sharing. Please refer to International Council of Museums – Definition of a Museum.
National museums of Canada
The National museums of Canada are Crown corporations established by the Museums Act.
Official language minority communities
The official language minority communities are the Anglophone communities residing in Quebec and the Francophone communities residing outside of Quebec.
Operational expenses
Cash expenses paid by an organization, in return for goods or services that are not incremental to the project. These expenses are ineligible for funding.
Result of an effort to attain a goal. They are the external effects or consequences of the project that are considered significant in relation to its initial commitments. Outcomes must be measurable and may occur within organizations, communities and individuals. They may relate to skills, knowledge, attitudes, values, conditions or other attributes. While there is less degree of control over outcomes, there should be a direct relationship between outputs and outcomes.
Most immediate results of a project. Outputs are the direct products or services produced and delivered to a target group or population, such as an exhibition, a collections or exhibitions policy, a workshop or seminar.
An organization that agrees to pool efforts and resources in order to achieve a common objective, while keeping its independence. Partner organizations contribute directly to the accomplishment of the project and benefit from its results.
Performance indicator

Data that can be used to determine whether a project has achieved its intended qualitative and quantitative results and, if so, to what degree.

Performance indicators should capture the most significant information. They must be reliable and cost-effective. To select the appropriate performance indicators, these questions should be asked:

  • Is it accurate? Will it measure the expected result?
  • Is it a cost-effective means of collecting data?
  • Can the information be obtained without infringing on privacy issues?
  • Does the information assist the project manager in understanding what will be the impact of the project on targeted heritage organizations?
  • Does it capture useful information that will assist the organization in making management decisions?
  • Will the information be communicated easily to interested parties, including funding organizations?
  • Will the information allow for a meaningful comparison between data prior to and after project completion?
  1. Quantitative performance indicators

    Data that can be used for evaluating progress made during a project. Quantitative performance indicators are expressed as statistical measurements such as numbers, percentages or ratios. For example:

    • the number of visitors at an exhibition or visitors accessing digital content;
    • the number of venues where a travelling exhibition was presented;
    • the number of collections and objects preserved and/or digitized and made available online; and
    • the number of participants at an activity, or users of tools.

    If the project targets a specific audience, such as Indigenous, youth, rural/remote, official language minority or culturally diverse communities, identify the number of participants from the targeted community and/or the percentage of participants from the targeted community compared to the total number of participants. For example:

    • the number and type of professional development activities (workshops, seminars, courses, etc.)
    • the number of downloads;
    • the number of online training activities developed (webinars, kits, etc.);
    • the number of best practices tools or documents about key museum functions implemented; and
    • the number of organizations benefiting from a sharing of best practices project.
  2. Qualitative performance indicators

    Information that can be used to evaluate progress made during a project. Qualitative indicators are expressed as opinions, behaviours or attitudes. Whenever possible, these performance indicators are generalized using a rating scale; for example, research quality is rated as excellent, average or below average. Other qualitative performance indicators include:

    • the level of satisfaction;
    • opinions of participants indicating that they have learned a great deal on a given subject;
    • comments by participants indicating that tools or documents developed could or will be implemented in their workplace;
    • observations from the participants on how the activity has led to positive change in their workplace/professional development; and
    • opinions of participants regarding the usefulness and/or relevance of the activity/tool.
Performance measures
Performance indicators that provide qualitative and/or quantitative information needed to measure the extent to which a project is achieving its intended outcomes. Qualitative data can be expressed in terms of change or comparison between two states, while quantitative indicators can be in the form of a ratio, percentage, comparison or figure.
Set of activities or functions that a recipient proposes to undertake with the financial assistance provided by a department. A project has a clear start and end date, occurs within a reasonable period of time and demonstrates measurable outputs and outcomes.
Racialized communities
Communities of shared heritage who have been historically disadvantaged as a group and may experience discrimination based on colour, culture and/or race.
Retrospective exhibition
A body of representative works, by an artist or a group of artists that spans a period of time and is presented and interpreted in the context of a historical perspective of the development and/or influences of that body of work. A minimum of 75% of the artefacts or visual art works should be drawn from public/private collections (other than the artist's collection), and a minimum of 90% of artefacts or visual art works must have been created more than 10 years prior to the date of application.
Services to the public year-round
Facilities and services are available to the public 12 months a year or upon request. Schedules and contact number for reservation are all up front and clearly displayed (website, building, brochure and advertising).
Strategic plan
Clearly written document that describes an organization's mandate, its short, mid and long-term goals or objectives, and priority actions to take. A strategic plan includes a timeframe for its execution, and identifies who, within the organization, or what outside agent will take responsibility for the completeness of the actions necessary to realize goals and objectives.
Travelling exhibition
Type of exhibition that is available for circulation to one or more venues in addition to the premises of the organizing museum.
For the Museums Assistance Program, youth are individuals generally between 7 and 30 years of age.
An individual working on behalf of others without receiving financial or material gain.

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