AAM to Launch Small Museums Accreditation Academy in 2016

Funded by NEA Grant, New Initiative Will Make Museums Standards, Accreditation and Assessment Programs More Accessible to America’s Small Museums

WASHINGTON. DC (February 12, 2014) −To assist small museums in achieving professional standards, the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) will develop the Small Museums Accreditation Academy—a mentorship program that guides small museums through several steps of the Continuum of Excellence, including Core Documents Verification and preparation for Accreditation. The Academy, launching in 2016, is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

”The majority of America’s estimated 17,500 museums can be classified as ‘small’ institutions,” said AAM president Ford W. Bell. “These are the ‘workhorses’ of the museum field, providing invaluable public service, significant educational opportunities and fulfilling the role of community assets, often on minimal resources. All of us at AAM are pleased that this Academy will enable us to enhance our service to these vital museums, helping them achieve Accreditation and other marks of national distinction that they clearly deserve.”

This initiative builds on the creation of AAM’s Continuum of Excellence in 2012, providing a natural ascension toward Accreditation through programs such as the Pledge of Excellence, the Museum Assessment Program (MAP), Core Documents Verification and other discipline-specific assessment programs.

With its mentoring component, the Small Museums Accreditation Academy will serve seven to 10 small museums each year, with the print and electronic resources available to all interested museums. Once developed, the program’s model as well as its curriculum and resources will require only minor annual revisions based on lessons learned.

“The Academy will increase awareness of the Continuum of Excellence and professional standards among small museums in a way that’s not overwhelming. Participation in the Academy can move an organization forward in a really positive way,” said Tamara Hemmerlein, Chair of the Small Museums Professional Network and Assistant Director of Local History Services at the Indiana Historical Society.

To build the program, the Alliance will convene an Advisory Committee to provide expertise on the types of resources and guidance that will most help their peers in pursuing and achieving accreditation. The Advisory Committee will consist of seven leaders in the field, both directors/senior staff of small museums that have already achieved Accreditation, as well as experienced Accreditation and/or MAP Peer Reviewers. The Advisory Committee will also serve as the pilot Peer Mentor group for the Academy’s inaugural year.

"This generous NEA grant empowers AAM to help small museums demonstrate their immense value to the public, the media, funders and elected officials, at all levels of government,” Bell said.

About the American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. With more than 20,000 individual, 3,500 museum and 300 corporate members, the Alliance is dedicated to ensuring that museums remain a vital part of the American landscape, connecting people with the greatest achievements of the human experience, past, present and future. For more information, visit www.aam-us.org.

Media Contact

Dewey Blanton
Alliance Communications