Continuum of Excellence

Learn about steps you can take toward excellence.


Join the Alliance

Membership is the foundation for excellence and unites the field.


The Continuum of Excellence:
A Getting Started Guide

Do you know where your museum should begin?

Take this short "quiz" to find out! Print out this page and circle the answer best fitting your museum’s situation for each of the questions. Then count instances of each letter and read “interpreting your results” at the end.

You may find you want to choose more than one answer—if this is the case, retake take the quiz and see how your results differ. Consider having several people from your museum take this quiz and compare answers.

1. The following statement best describes my museum’s situation:

A. 
We are looking for direction to take our institution to the next level. 
B.  My history organization is eager to meet standards.
C. We hope to apply for Accreditation and want some recognition for our good work now.
D.  We want to be counted as a member of the museum field and recognized for committing to museum  standards.
E.   We are ready to hold ourselves publicly accountable.

2. My museum wants to: 

A.
Get peer advice to help my museum excel.
B. Have performance indicators to help my history organization see how well it is meeting standards.
C. Have our core documents reviewed to see if they meet museum standards.
D.   Learn more about museum standards and best practices.
E. Demonstrate our credibility and value to funders, policy makers, community and peers.

3. We'd prefer to:  

A. Have an expert museum professional visit and offer consultative advice.
B. Work on our own, in a self-directed way, without deadlines.
C.  Have a third party vet our documents.
D. Take an easy step to commmit to museum professional standards.
E.  Have peer museum professionals review and validate my museum's operations and mission fulfillment.

4. My museum is willing to devote this amount of time participating in an excellence program:

A. 
One year or less.
B. No time limit.
C. Six months or less.
D. I don't have much time, but my museum wants to commit to the field.
E. Between 1–2 years.

Interpreting Your Results

If you’ve selected the same letter more than once, find that letter in the description below. That’s the program that might be best for your museum at this point.

Countless resources to support your museum on its pathway to excellence are available with membership in the Alliance. While membership is not required toparticipate in these programs, it is an important first step on your journey. 

A. Museum Assessment Program and Conservation Assessment Program

Your organization is ready to benchmark your practices against national standards and can strengthen operations through expert peer feedback and consultation. The Museum Assessment Program (MAP) offers a holistic organizational assessment, a collections stewardship assessment or a community engagement assessment. The Conservation Assessment Program (CAP) offers a conservation assessment. 

B. StEPs

Your museum is ready for a program specifically tailored for historic houses, historical societies and other history organizations. The American Association for State and Local History’s StEPs program is a voluntary, self-assessment program designed see how well your institution is meeting professional standards. Museums that achieve a certain number and level of StEPs performance indicators can have a streamlined MAP assessment.

C. Core Documents Verification

Your institution is ready to receive recognition validating that your museum’s mission and core policies meet national standards for professional museums. Find out more about Core Documents Verification and how to get started.

D. Pledge of Excellence

Your museum is ready to show your commitment to ethics, national standards and best practices. Take the Pledge of Excellence online.

E. Accreditation

Your museum is ready to earn national recognition for your museum’s commitment and demonstration of the highest professional standards for education, public service and collections care. As a participant in the Accreditation program funders, policy makers, your community and peers will view you as a credible and valued institution. If your organization is a zoo or aquarium, consider the Association of Zoo and Accreditation program. If you are already accredited by AZA, the Alliance Accreditation process will be more streamlined.