The Fund was established in 1973 in response to the growing public concern that technological change was burning away all trace of Britain's industrial heritage. Since 1973 PRISM has helped over 400 museums and preservation groups in England and Wales acquire or conserve over 2000 objects of industrial or scientific importance.
The PRISM Fund awarded 56 grants during in 2003-2004, worth £343,237.13. This sum includes the significant under-spend carried forward from the period 2002-2003. The MLA allocates £250,000 each year to the PRISM Fund. Acquisitions represent approximately 40 percent of the number of awards, though they account for only 30 percent of the total spend.