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On July 5, 2017, the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs received notification that its museum system, which includes five museums and the archaeological and historic-objects collections of the State of Delaware, has been accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the highest recognition afforded to museums in the United States.
“Achieving accreditation is the gold standard of the museum profession” said Timothy Slavin, director of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. “This achievement is doubly significant because we persevered and achieved it during trying economic times for the State of Delaware. Across our entire division, we maintained focus and effectiveness and our role as cultural stewards was recognized.”
Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, to governments, funders, outside agencies and the museum-going public. The newly accredited state museums include the John Dickinson Plantation near Kitts Hummock; the Johnson Victrola Museum and Old State House in downtown Dover; the New Castle Court House Museum; and the Zwaanendael Museum in Lewes. State museums are under the stewardship of the Department of State.
“Our state museums, and the collections they house, are treasures to be appreciated by Delawareans and visitors alike, and the dedicated team at the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs serve as excellent caretakers,” said Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock. “The people of Delaware can be proud of the work they do and the rich historic and cultural legacy they help preserve and safeguard for all of us.”
Developed and sustained by museum professionals for over 45 years, 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.
Accreditation is a rigorous process that examines all aspects of a museum’s operations. To earn accreditation, a museum first must 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.