Advisory Committee

The Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC) Advisory Committee is composed of a group of internal and external experts. The role of the committee includes reviewing and providing feedback on quick pitches, and evaluating proposals submitted for the Medium and Large investment streams. Their work takes into account the overall investment program outcomes, and specific review and evaluation criteria. The committee recommends to the Canadian Museum of History (CMH) proposals for VMC investment. For reasons of public accountability, the CMH reserves the right to reject the committee’s recommendations. 

After the committee’s recommendations have been approved, the CMH signs an agreement with the institution receiving the investment that sets out project requirements and responsibilities.  

Date modified: June 2020

Evaluation Criteria

Mandatory criteria are used to filter out ineligible projects before the institution starts preparing their proposal. The Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC) Advisory Committee uses the rated criteria to evaluate eligible proposals. The committee reserves the right to refine the criteria as the VMC investment program evolves. 

For the 2020 Call for Proposals, institutions are invited to submit a proposal for an online product on the subject of their choice. Examples include virtual exhibits, virtual tours, web-based games, web applications, educational resources, and more. 

Date modified: June 2020 

Mandatory Criteria

To proceed to the evaluation stage, proposals must meet the following criteria:  

  • The product described in the proposal will provide a complete online experience for users (content can be consumed in any location, without specialized equipment)  
  • The product will be produced in both official languages 
  • The application is received by the deadline of October 282020 at 5 pm Eastern Daylight Time  

Note: Following a preliminary review, institutions with incomplete applications will be contacted and given the opportunity to respond in a timely manner.  

Date modified: June 2020

Rated Criteria

To facilitate the evaluation process, proposals must clearly respond to the criteria below.

Only those proposals that obtain a score of 65 points or more will be considered for investment.

Subject (8 points)

The proposal presents a clearly defined subject and main message that explore significant people, places, periods, events, activities, discoveries, practices, traditions, movements, issues, etc., past and/or present.

The proposal clearly explains how the project is relevant to the institution, the target audience(s) and the broader community.

More about subject:

The main message is the “big idea” you want to communicate about your subject, or the angle you want to take on it. One subject can have many different main messages. For example, an online product about Canada’s climates could look at how Canadians’ changing views about winter are impacting our sense of identity, or, how living in one of the planet’s most diverse weather systems is inspiring exciting technological innovations and artistic works.

Target Audience (12 points)

Target Audience

The proposal clearly defines 1-2 main audience(s) and, if needed, a secondary target audience for the online product.

More about target audience(s):

One size does not fit all. Online products are more effective when they target specific audiences. Imagine a few types of users you intend to reach with your online product. Consider what they know about the subject, how they consume online content, and why they would engage with your product. Prioritize your audience types, so you end up with 1-2 main audience(s), and a secondary one, if needed. Keep these users in mind as you develop your proposal.

Research [LARGE ($150,000 TO $250,000) INVESTMENT ONLY] 

The proposal presents key findings from research that validate the choice of target audience(s).

More about research:

Research can be original, like front-end evaluation, or from another source, like published reports and studies. Front-end evaluation is done at the beginning of a project to learn about a target audience’s levels of awareness of, interest in, and knowledge about a subject.


The proposal articulates clear outcomes for the target audience(s). The main curriculum competencies are provided for school audiences.

More about outcomes:

Outcomes describe how the audience(s) will benefit from engaging with the online product. For example, will it: Inform them? Teach them a new skill? Connect them to other people? Inspire them to take action? Prompt a change in attitude? Surprise and delight them?


The proposal presents a clear plan to evaluate one or more aspects of the online product with members of the main target audience(s).

More about evaluation:

Formative evaluation is done with a sample of the main target audience(s), while a product is in development, to improve the final version of the product. There can be several cycles of testing and refinement.

Content (16 points)

The proposal identifies a range of content and explains how it supports the subject and audience outcomes.

The proposal indicates whether the content already exists or will be created.

Plans are included to collect and manage any user-generated content, and to consult with peoples or groups whose histories are represented in the online product.

More about content:

Content can take many forms, including physical sites, objects, specimens, images, documents, audio, video, other media, etc. Content may already exist or may need to be created for the online product.

User-generated content includes activities like curating your own collection from a larger collection of objects, and contributing your own content – like stories or objects – to an online product.

In order to avoid misrepresentation, peoples or groups whose histories are represented in the online product should be consulted in a meaningful way.

User Experience (20 points)

The proposal explains how the content will be organized in the online product.

The proposal describes in detail a rich and engaging user experience that brings the content to life for the target audience(s). Aspects of the experience are different from, or not feasible in, the physical world.

Because design happens later in the process of making an online product, mock-ups and other demonstrations submitted with the proposal will not be evaluated.

More about the user experience:

Examples of user experiences that are different from, or not feasible in, the physical world: seeing under or zooming into the paint layer of a painting; travelling through time, to space or to the bottom of the ocean; visiting remote or geographically dispersed locations or communities; assembling many large-scale artifacts in one location; presenting and linking a collection in an attractive way; seeing inside a restricted building or area of a building; flying low over a landscape; etc.

Technology (12 points)


The proposal identifies specific digital tools and technologies and explains how they will enhance the user experience. There is a good fit between them and the audience outcomes.

More about technology:

Think of technology in terms of features and functionality, rather than specific software. If the technology has a mainstream name like virtual reality or 360-degree video feel free to use it, but describing the behaviour is also acceptable. e.g. a website that involves an engaging scroll experience that triggers various animations and elements as the user journeys down the page.

Technical Specifications

The proposal demonstrates how the web content will be accessible to all users regardless of their abilities and the platform or technology they use to access it.

More about technical specifications:

Even if your online project is focused on immersive technologies and interactive media, think of how the content you are sharing with your audience can be made available to as many users as possible, regardless of their abilities, their bandwidth and the tools they are using to access the web. Without going into technical details, describe your proposed approach for making your content as accessible as possible and for implementing Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1).

Support and Hosting [LARGE ($150,000 TO $250,000) INVESTMENT ONLY] 

The proposal demonstrates that the expertise needed to work with the digital tools and technologies, and the technical infrastructure needed to support them, will be in place during the development and post-launch stages.

More about support and hosting:

Try to demonstrate an awareness of what is required from the back-end to support your project. Show a good fit between the overall type and scale of infrastructure required and the experience you are creating.

Project Team (16 points)

The proposal demonstrates a clear understanding of the roles involved in delivering an online product.

The proposal presents a solid team drawn from the lead institution and other organizations with proven and/or recognized expertise and experience directly related to the content, user experience or technological approach of the online product. Peoples or groups whose histories are represented in the online product are represented on the team.

More about the project team:

The project team is the group of people who fill the wide variety of roles needed to deliver an online product. This includes people from the lead institution, other organizations, and the wider community.

Project teams can experience a lot of change in the time it takes to do an online product. If your project is selected for investment, you will be asked to identify back-up people to cover key roles so your project can stay on track.

For projects where external technical expertise is needed, while you are not required to have selected a multimedia company by the time you submit your proposal, it is helpful to identify one or more companies you could work with to do your project.

Schedule and Budget (16 points)


The schedule demonstrates a clear understanding of the tasks required to do the online product. The schedule is structured around the planned launch date, and the deliverables and VMC quality assurance reviews associated with each of the five product development phases. Tasks are assigned to people. Task durations are provided and are realistic.

More about schedule:

The five product development phases are: production plan, interpretive plan, preliminary version of the online product, developed version, and final version.

It takes 6 months from the call for proposals deadline to evaluate the proposals and notify applicants. Projects typically begin within a month of notification, and take between 1.5 and 3 years, depending on the scope of the project.

The VMC performs a quality assurance review for each project phase. In phase 1, the review period is up to 10 days; phase 2-5 reviews take up to 4 weeks. In most phases, two reviews are usually required in order to progress to the next phase. After each review, allow 2 to 4 weeks for your revisions and modifications. Include these tasks and timeframes in your schedule.

When preparing your schedule, consult your team members, and thoroughly review the deliverables and the VMC Technical Specifications.

Promotion [LARGE ($150,000 TO $250,000) INVESTMENT ONLY] 

The proposal includes a high-level outline that presents key promotional strategies for the launch of the online product, and the five-year period post-launch.

More about promotion:

While the VMC investment doesn’t cover marketing and communications expenses related to your online product, there is an expectation that you will tell people about it. Think about how you will promote the launch, and make people aware of your product in the following years. Social media and other types of campaigns, e-newsletters, activities and presentations can be effective.


The budget identifies realistic costs for all the tasks in the schedule. The lead institution and organizations involved in the project cover some of the costs.  Items in the VMC column reflect an understanding of the eligible costs and ineligible costs. Notes that show how costs were calculated are provided. If available, quotes are uploaded.

More about budget:

Include costs for all the tasks described in the schedule. Indicate which costs will be covered by the lead institution, the VMC, and other organizations involved in the project. Refer to Eligible and Ineligible Costs when assigning costs to the VMC.

Under “notes” in the budget template, explain how costs were calculated (e.g. hourly rate x number of hours) and provide a description of services. Include any support documentation (e.g. quotes) to show that budget items have been calculated responsibly.

Use extra care when calculating technology-related costs. To avoid unexpected changes to the scope of technical work involved in developing the product, everyone involved in the development should become thoroughly familiar with the VMC Technical Specifications.

A Medium investment from the VMC will not exceed $150,000 per project (excluding applicable taxes). A Large investment will not exceed $250,000.

Support Letters (to validate information in the proposal)

Letters are provided from organizations involved in the project.

Letters confirm the type and (if applicable) value of the support, and align with the project description, schedule and (for financial or in-kind contributions) budget.

More about support letters:

Organizations can support your project in many different ways. For example, they can: give access to collections, give access to the target audience, provide expertise or services, validate and evaluate content, contribute financially or in-kind, and more.

Letters should be provided to validate this support.

Make sure the details in the letter align with the project description, schedule and, for financial or in-kind contributions, the budget.

Use the Support Letter template provided.

Date modified: June 2020

Proposal Evaluation Process

For each call for proposals, the total funding amount requested by applicants greatly exceeds the annual funding budget of the Medium and Large investment streams. 

The VMC assesses all eligible proposals to ensure compliance with VMC requirements, including the mandatory criteria identified below. A proposal that meets these criteria is then evaluated by the VMC Advisory Committee against the rated criteria to determine if it will be recommended for investment. The VMC also prepares proposal summary information to assist the committee in its work.   

The committee’s evaluation process involves individual assessments and group discussions. At its annual meeting, the committee decides which proposals to recommend for VMC investment. 

Once the call for proposals closes, the evaluation process takes six months, including the evaluation by the committee. 

Date modified: June 2020