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We are excited to announce that the Delaware Division of Historical & Cultural Affairs has been selected to participate in the American Association of Museums‘ (AAM) Museum Assessment Program (MAP).  Through a year-long process of guided self-study and on-site consultation with museum professionals, this initiative will empower the division to better serve the community by helping  the state’s museum system to meet and exceed the highest professional standards of the museum field.

2012 marks the 30th year of the program, which is administered by AAM and funded by the federal Institute of Museum & Library Studies (IMLS) as part of the Institute’s National Leadership program.

HCA began the MAP application process in August of last year as part of the division’s initiative to prepare the AAM’s rigorous Museum Accreditation Program. AAM-Accredited museums comprise a list of elite institutions across the country that have demonstrated the highest levels of ethical and professional standards in the museum field.

Think of museum accreditation like college accreditation and the Star Diamond Award (accreditation for restaurants and hotels) meeting in a coffee shop and saying, “Let’s go to the museum!” It would (read: will) be a great honor for the entire state if (read: when) we can put this figurative feather in our figurative tricorne hat.


Over the course of the next year, an assessment team comprised of HCA staff and partners from the state and local communities will work with a network of leading museum professionals to carry out an organizational assessment that will address the division’s operations from five areas of focus:

I.      Mission and Planning – Does our mission address the needs of the community and are we fulfilling it?

II.    Interpretation – How are we connecting the community to the state’s collections? Is it effective?

III.  Collections Stewardship – How are we protecting the state’s collections? How could we improve as stewards?

IV.  Administration and Finance – Do our administrative practices reflect the needs of the division and the community that it serves?

V.    Governance – Does our leadership and organizational structure foster a presence of public trust and accountability?

While HCA does hope to be considered for AAM Accreditation in coming years,  MAP provides an opportunity for us to better realize an even greater overall goal: empowering visitors and residents of the First State by fostering a strong and lasting relationship with its rich cultural heritage and dynamic history. It just so happens that one goal leads happily to the other.

Do you see where this is going? See, YOU happen to be a pretty big part of this process, so why not embrace it and participate? “How do I participate?” you may ask… Well, you can start here and now by leaving your thoughts below about this program we’ve gotten ourselves into.

There will also be opportunities in the future to participate in some of the assessment surveys and activities. Keep an eye out for details here on the HCA Blog or, if you can’t stand the thought of missing out on the fun, you can email me, Travis Kirspel, at travis.kirspel@delaware.gov. Also feel free to contact me if you’d like to know more or have any suggestions about how we can make the most of this opportunity with AAM and IMLS!


So what do you think? What do you hope to see from this Museum Assessment Program?