As part of the bid to encourage a lifelong interest among children, museums and galleries will host after-school clubs and take their work into schools.
Charles Clarke, the school standards minister, announced the 17 pilot schemes this week at a conference on out-of-school learning held by Education Extra, a charity which promotes summer schools, after-school clubs and other forms of study support.
Mr Clarke said: "We want to get the relationship between schools and museums away from the traditional school visit and look at a more productive way of learning."
The projects will share Pounds 140,000. Institutions are to work with consortia of schools taking exhibits and experts into the classroom and asking children to create displays or pamphlets.
Education Extra is to evaluate the success of the pilot projects. Its findings will be used to determine what type of museum and school partnerships lottery money should be used to establish.