Accreditation Process and Timeline

For museums currently going through reaccreditation, please see our Guide to the New Reaccreditation Process (PDF).

Preparation (First-Time Applicants)

If you are interested in applying, but not currently accredited, please see our Guide to the First-Time Accreditation Process (PDF).

  • Submit a formal application; notification of acceptance arrives within one month.


  • Museum completes the self-study.
  • Feedback from Alliance staff is issued, with requests for missing information or clarifications. Staff determine if the museum is ready for a site visit.

Site Visit

  • Museum reviews names of potential peer reviewers.
  • The Visiting Committee works with the museum to schedule a visit.
  • The visit is usually two full days. The Visiting Committee conducts a thorough review of the institution.
  • The Visiting Committee writes a report detailing its observations about the museum for the Accreditation Commission.

Accreditation Decision

The Accreditation Commission reviews the museum's self-study and Visiting Committee report and makes one of the following decisions:
  • Grants accreditation: Accreditation can be granted for the full 10 years or the museum can be flagged for an early review at 5 years if concerns are cited.
  • Tables its decision: The Commission has concerns but allows the museum to resolve specific operational challenges within one year. Museums are required to submit a progress report halfway through the year and a final report at the end.
  • Denies the award: Reserved for failure to meet multiple Characteristics of Excellence eligibility criteria and for major systemic problems. A denial decision can also result if a tabled museum is unable to demonstrate adequate progress or sufficiently address the Commission’s concerns.
  • Defers a decision: The Commission may defer making one of the above decisions when it needs more information, clarification or expertise.
View statistics about Accreditation Commission decisions.

Within one month of the meeting, the museum receives a letter from the Chair of the Accreditation Commission with its decision. The museum also receives the Visiting Committee’s report, an official certificate and materials to help publicize the award.

Total time from application to decision: Approximately 11-16 months.

Museums undergo the reaccreditation process every ten years.