The Union County Museum is undertaking a process that, if successfully completed, could make it one of the less than five percent of American museums to receive national accreditation.
In a statement released Tuesday, museum Director Ola Jean Kelly announced that the museum had been selected by the American Association of Museums to participate in the Museum Accreditation Program (MAP). Peter Triggiani, assistant to the director, said Thursday that only 4.5 percent of all museums in America are accredited by American Association of Museums. He added that the museums accredited by the association include some of the most prestigious in South Carolina and the rest of the United States.
“It’s a very prestigious thing, it’s something that only 4.5 percent of the museums in this country have been able to accomplish, Triggiani said. “We recently joined the American Association of Museums, a political non-profit organization that does work in Washington, DC to develop and support museums. The Museum Assessment Program is a program they offer, it’s the equivalent of a $4,000 grant. The program is a stepping stone toward accreditation by the American Association of Museums, the only organization in the US that accredits museums. They do museums from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to the Charleston Museum in South Carolina.”
Triggiani said the MAP process involves four phases.
“The first phase is the application process, which is just like grant writing,” Triggiani said. “Since we’ve been approved, we’re now going into the second phase, the self-assessment phase. We have until December to complete that phase. After the holidays the third phase begins. This is the peer review phase which involves a professional from an accredited museum coming in. The fourth phase would be the implementation of any changes he recommends to improve our museum.”
Triggiani said the second phase of the process got underway at the museum this week. He said there are approximately 92 other museums in Alaska, New Mexico, New York and other states that are also undergoing the MAP process.
“We have established a timeline which has been given to the chairman of the board of directors,” Triggiani said. “It outlines the entire MAP process for the all the different phases. The American Association of Museums gives us a checklist to begin a self-assessment of our organization. The checklist is divided into four parts. The first part deals with the museum mission and planning. The next phase looks at collection stewardship. There’s an administration and finance audit that we’re going to look at. Then there’s governance of the museum.”
Administered by the American Association of Museums for the past 30 years, MAP is funded by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). As part of the IMLS National Leadership program, MAP advances best practices and fosters improvement in museums. MAP is a self-motivated program; application to and participation is initiated by each local institution, and those accepted invest considerable human and institutional resources into the assessment.
MAP is a confidential process of self-study, peer review and implementation. Museums use the assessment process to strengthen operations, build capacity, and enhance communication throughout the organization and in response to community needs. Participant museums choose one of three categories for its assessment: Collections Stewardship Organizational, Community Engagement. Union County Museum is taking part in the Organizational assessment process. Small and mid-sized museums of all types, including art, history, science and technology, children’s, natural history, historic houses, nature centers, botanical gardens, and zoos participate in the program.
“Choosing to be part of the MAP program is indicative of the commitment to civic involvement, public service and overall excellence on the part of Union County Museum,” said Ford W. Bell, president of the American Association of Museums. “Studies have shown America’s museums to be among the country’s most trusted and valued institutions. MAP is designed to make them even better.”
Since its creation in 1981, the MAP program has served more than 4,300 museums. MAP is supported through a cooperative agreement with IMLS. For more information, including a complete list of museums participating in MAP, visit www.aam-us.org/map, call 202/289-9118 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
AAM is the only organization representing the nation’s entire museum community and has been dedicated to promoting excellence within the museum field for over 100 years. For more information about AAM, visit www.aam-us.org. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. To learn more about the Institute, please visit: http://www.imls.gov.
Union County Museum
The Union County Museum, which is owned and operated be the Union County Historical society, reopened at its current location in Sept. 2004. Its mission is:
• To discover, identify and collect the archives, and genealogical and historical materials which may help to establish and illustrate the history of Union County, South Carolina.
• To provide for the preservation of such material and for its accessibility, as far as may be feasible, to all who wish to examine or study it.
• To serve as a focal point for the dissemination of information regarding Union County, South Carolina and its history.
For more information about the Union County Museum call 429-5081.