In a ceremony at the New Castle Court House Museum on Oct. 5, 2017, Gov. John Carney celebrated the American Alliance of Museums’ accreditation of Delaware’s state-museum system, the highest recognition afforded to museums in the United States. Administered by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the system includes five museums as well as the archaeological and historic-objects collections curated by the state.
“I can’t think of anything more important than ‘Saving Delaware History,’ said Carney referring to the division’s motto. In congratulating Director Tim Slavin and the staff of the division for achieving accreditation, Carney noted that “the rich history on display in our state’s museums ties us together as a community and enhances the quality of life here for Delawareans and for those who visit Delaware. We’ve always known that these institutions and the dedicated folks who run them are top notch. Now we have a true seal of approval that assures all of us that we can count on a rewarding experience when we visit Delaware’s state museums.”
Speaking of the difficulty of the challenge facing the division, state Sen. David McBride noted that the agency had been able to work its way through the accreditation process during “extremely difficult financial times for the State of Delaware. It’s a great achievement.”
Developed and sustained by museum professionals, the American Alliance of Museums’ accreditation program is the field’s primary vehicle for quality assurance, self-regulation and public accountability. It strengthens the museum profession by promoting practices that enable leaders to make informed decisions, allocate resources wisely and remain financially and ethically accountable in order to provide the best possible service to the public.
Of the nation’s estimated 33,000 museums, approximately 1,000 currently are accredited. Delaware’s state museums join only two other museums accredited in Delaware, Hagley Museum and Library and Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library.
Accreditation is a rigorous process that examines all aspects of a museum’s operations. To earn accreditation, a museum must first conduct a year of self-study and then undergo a site visit by a team of peer reviewers. An independent and autonomous body of museum professionals then considers the self-study and visiting-committee report to determine whether a museum should receive accreditation.