Accreditation – The Museum Field’s Mark of Distinction

The Museums of Western Colorado is one of six museums in the state of Colorado that is Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and has held the museum field’s mark of distinction since 1971, when accreditation was first instated. Accreditation offers peer-based validation of a museum’s operations and impact and increases a museum’s credibility. It is a powerful tool to that helps facilitate loans between institutions as well as helping museums when applying for grants. The accreditation process is centered on self-study and peer review and takes 8-16 months to complete and should be done every 10 years. The Museums of Western Colorado is currently preparing to undergo reaccreditation.

To remain accredited, a museum must meet the Alliance of Museum’s Core Standards which are grouped into the following categories: Public Trust and Accountability, Mission and Planning, Leadership and Organizational Structure, Collections Stewardship, Education and Interpretation, Financial Stability, and Facilities and Risk Management. To prepare for this, we have been working on inventorying the collections and rehousing them to current standards, reworking our education programing, updating our core documents to meet current standards, and creating new public programing. 

We will complete our self-assessment by 2022 and will undergo the peer review process in 2023. Reviewers are matched to museums based on type/discipline and size. The reviewers go over the museum self-assessment materials, conduct site visits and facilitate the institutional planning process. Once the review is completed, if the museum has met the Core Standards, we will be granted reaccreditation. 

Photo courtesy of Loyd Files Research Library