The Islamic Art and Material Culture SSN UK





The specialist support scheme aims to provide regional museums with a toolkit to help them unlock the potential of their collections of Islamic Art & Material Culture (IAMC) and use them to engage with new and diverse audiences. It will provide a bespoke package of flexible, specialist and practical support through a scalable programme that can be tailored to the needs of individual institutions. At least one tangible output, such as a new display, knowledge sharing or outreach event should result from that specialist support.  Funding is provided through an ACE Resilience Fund Grant awarded to the SSN for Islamic Art & Material Culture (see:


Selection for the scheme is based on a written application. If your application is unsuccessful, we invite you to access other support offered by the SSN in the form of our study days and our bursary scheme for museum professionals.



What collections areas are relevant? 

The remit of the SSN is defined broadly and currently we incorporate: 

  • Historic collections of IAMC from regions where Islam is, or was, the dominant religion (e.g. Middle East, North Africa, Iran, Mughal India) 
  • Contemporary art from the Middle East 
  • Art and artefacts from other regions inspired by or with an association to the Middle East and dating from the 19th century to the present day 


The specialist support scheme was created with a view to developing historic IAMC collections, possibly also extending to related contemporary works. However, we are open to applications that in their outputs could link such collections innovatively to other areas such as oral or social history collections or related applied art material.   In this round, we would also welcome applications that incorporated the theme of faith, relating to Islam but also including other world religions.



Eligibility in 2017/18

  • Applications this year are open to institutions across England but priority will be given to those in regions not already targeted by the scheme, namely those in the East of England and the East Midlands.  
  • Accredited museums / heritage centres, or those working towards accreditation 
  • Applications can be led by collections, curatorial and/or engagement and outreach staff. We particularly welcome applications that reflect collaborations between staff in these areas reflecting the scheme’s own emphasis on both identifying and understanding objects but also establishing their wider potential for engaging new audiences.


This is the final year of this scheme under current funding and so we would encourage all interested parties to apply, including those who have not been successful in previous rounds.


Application process in 2017/18



  • Applications deadline is 5pm on Monday 7th August 2017
  • Please apply by completing the on-line form available here:

  • Paper versions of these applications are available on request if completing this online form is problematic.
  • We aim to inform applicants of the outcome of their application by Monday 21st August 2017
  • For successful applicants, their projects must be completed by the end March 2018.




How will the scheme operate? 

The scheme is split into sections that should follow each other: 

1) Visits by specialists to your institution for a minimum of one day, or a maximum of five days based on your requirements. We aim to work with you to match the needs of your institution with selected experts. Days could be split between experts in IAMC and/or an engagement and outreach, with the people involved in this work suggested by and contracted through the SSN. Where necessary a freelance photographer can be provided to create digital images of up to 30 objects. Support and advice from an object conservator is also available. A report resulting from those visits will be produced by specialists and given to each institution. It is a key requirement that these visits actively involve members of staff, enabling them to become confident stewards of their IAMC collections.



As this is the final year of the scheme we will prioritise applications from institutions who can guarantee that they will be able to accommodate a visit from a collections specialist (on a mutually convenient date) before the end of December 2017.



2) Outputs should result from the knowledge and understanding of your collections developed from the specialist visits. Those outputs must be designed and selected by the participating institution but should focus on increasing public engagement with your IAMC collection and, where possible, on sharing your new found expertise with other intuitions in your region. The format could vary with possible activities including a physical or online display (can be hosted through the SSN’s own website); an object handling session or a knowledge sharing event. These activities will be supported by a budget to cover costs, from design and production of graphics to refreshments for an outreach event. This second phase must be completed by end of March 2018.  



Indicative breakdown of funding available


These are flexible and can be changed in relation to your project. In particular, please do note that if you do not require this level of support then it can be scaled back relative to the size of your collection / project. Please note that all costs will be paid directly by the SSN through its base at Birmingham Museums Trust.  

  • Up to 5 days support from freelancer specialists (curatorial and engagement) @£350 a day - £1,750  
  • Accommodation expenses for freelance specialists @£75 / night for max 5 nights - £375
  • Travel expenses for freelance specialists - up to £250
  • Photography for up to 30 objects and/or conservation support - £2,000
  • Regional knowledge sharing event - £200
  •  Physical or on-line display or outreach session - £500
  • TOTAL - £5,075 



Please contact the SSN through our e-mail account: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with ‘Specialist Support Scheme’ clearly stated in the subject line.


A prinable version of the application guidelines can be found here 


Overviews of both Year 1 and Year 2 of the Specialist Support Scheme can be found by clicking on the following links Year 1  and Year 2



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