Accreditation by the Numbers
The Alliance compiles information on the activities of the Accreditation Program, including an analysis of accreditation decisions and a breakdown of accredited museums by museum type, budget, governance type, staff size and region.
The statistics below are based on self-reporting accredited museums. For the full list of Accredited museums click here.
Primary Museum Type, % Of Accredited Museums
- Art Museum/Center, 41%
- History Museum, 22%
- General (Multi-disciplinary), 10%
- Historic House/Site, 8%
- Natural History/Anthropology Museum, 8%
- Specialized Museum (e.g., railroad, music, aviation), 4%
- Science /Technology Museum/Center (includes Planetariums), 3%
- Arboretum/ Botanical Garden, 3%
- Children’s/Youth Museum, Less than 1%
- Zoological Park, Less than 1%
- Nature Center, Less than 1%
- Aquarium, Less than 1%
Annual Budget, % Of Accredited Museums
- $350,000 and under, 8%
- $350,000–$499,999, 6%
- $500,000–$999,999, 18%
- $1,000,000–$2.9M, 30%
- $3M–$4.9M, 12%
- $5M–$14.9M, 17%
- $15M and over, 10%
Governance Type, % Of Accredited Museums
- Private Non-Profit, 63%
- College/University, 16%
- State, 7%
- Municipal, 6%
- Federal, 4%
- County/Regional, 2%
- Other (e.g., joint governance, trust, school district), 2%
- Tribal, Less than 1%
Number Of Full-Time Staff, % Of Accredited Museums
- 1–5, 15%
- 6–15, 28%
- 16–30 , 21%
- 31–50 , 12%
- 51–70, 5%
- 71–100, 8%
- 101–150, 5%
- 151–200, 1%
- More than 200, 6%
Geographical Region (By Museum Association), % Of Accredited Museums
- Southeastern (SEMC), 24%
- Midwest (AMM), 18%
- Mid-Atlantic (MAAM), 18%
- Western (WMA), 15%
- Mountain-Plains (MPMA), 14%
- New England (NEMA), 11%
Accreditation Commission Decisions
Decisions Summary (2021)
Institutions Reviewed: Includes all institutions on a given Commission meeting agenda. The number includes museums being reviewed by the Commission for the first time after a site visit and those submitting progress or final reports related to an earlier tabling decision.
Accreditation Awarded: Institutions can be granted accreditation for the full 10 years or the museum can be flagged for an early review at 5 years.
Tabled: The Accreditation Commission “tables” its decision on a museum’s accreditation when it identifies one or more specific concerns that are barriers to the institution’s ability to meet the Core Standards for Museums, Accreditation program requirements and/or eligibility, but which it anticipates can be addressed within one year or less.
Denied: Institutions are denied for failure to meet multiple Core Standards for Museums and for major systemic problems. A denial decision can also be made when a tabled museum is unable to demonstrate adequate progress in addressing the Commission’s concerns.
Deferral: The Commission may defer making one of the above decisions when it needs more information, clarification or expertise.
Other: Institutions that did not receive a final decision during the meeting (i.e., were not awarded accreditation, tabled, or denied). These include museums only presenting progress reports as part of a tabling action.
A museum’s accredited status is not changed during a period in which a decision is tabled or deferred.
About Success Rates
The Accreditation Program has an overall success rate of 97%. About 2% are denied outright and 1% are unsuccessful after being tabled. The success rate is high because there are many steps built into the review process for the museum to receive feedback and counsel from the Accreditation Program staff and Commission; the museum then has an opportunity to respond or take some type of action. Museums also receive counseling and support from the Accreditation program staff before and during the process to ensure readiness. Most museums come into the process well prepared.
All accredited museums must go through reaccreditation every ten years. (The Accreditation Commission, however, may designate an early review on a case-by-case basis.)
The Accreditation Commission also has a process to act on allegations of unprofessional practice brought to its attention. Learn more about that process here.