American Alliance of Museums awards re-accreditation

Leonardtown, MD – The St. Mary’s County Museum Division has once again achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition afforded the nation’s museums, for all county-run historic sites. These include the St. Clement’s Island Museum in Colton’s Point, MD, the Piney Point Lighthouse Museum & Historic Park in Piney Point, MD, the Drayden African American Schoolhouse in Drayden, MD and the U-1105 Black Panther Historic Shipwreck Preserve in the Potomac off of Piney Point, MD.

Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, governments, funders, outside agencies and museum patrons. St. Mary’s County Museum Division sites were initially accredited in 1992. Museums must undergo a re accreditation review at least every 10 years to maintain accreditation status. The next review is slated for 2027.

Alliance Accreditation brings national recognition to a museum for its commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards and continued institutional improvement. Developed and sustained by museum professionals for over 45 years, the Alliance’s museum accreditation program is the field’s primary vehicle for quality assurance, self-regulation and public accountability. It strengthens the museum profession by promoting practices which enable leaders to make informed decisions, allocate resources wisely and remain financially and ethically accountable to provide the best possible service to the public.

“Being accredited by the American Alliance of Museums is like getting the ‘Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval,’” says Karen Stone, St. Mary’s County Museum Division Manager. “It demonstrates to the world we are doing things properly in caring for the collections and buildings entrusted to us by the public and shows other museums we will treat loaned objects with care. This accreditation proves the division to be worthy of that trust. I am very proud of this achievement, which took the help of many staff members and volunteers alike.”

Of the nation’s estimated 33,000 museums, over 1,070 are currently accredited. The sites cared for by the St. Mary’s County Museum Division (including the division itself) represent five of seven currently accredited in Southern Maryland (Historic St. Mary’s City and the Calvert Marine Museum being the others). There are only 23 total accredited sites in Maryland.

Accreditation is a very rigorous but highly rewarding process which 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. AAM’s Accreditation Commission, an independent and autonomous body of museum professionals, considers the self-study and visiting committee report to determine whether a museum should receive accreditation.

“Accredited museums are a community of institutions that have chosen to hold themselves publicly accountable to excellence,” said Laura L. Lott, Alliance president and CEO. “Accreditation is clearly a significant achievement, of which both the institutions and the communities they serve can be extremely proud.”

The St. Mary’s County Museum Division was established by the St. Mary’s County Board of County Commissioners to collect, preserve, research and interpret the historic sites and artifacts that illustrate the natural and cultural histories of St. Mary’s County and the Potomac River. With this as its charter, the Museum Division serves as a resource, liaison and community advocate for all St. Mary’s County public and private cultural assets.

The St. Mary’s County Museum Division manages 94 acres of property and 4 historic sites, including: St. Clement’s Island Museum; the Little Red Schoolhouse; the Piney Point Lighthouse, Museum and Historic Park; the Drayden African-American Schoolhouse; and the U-1105 Black Panther Shipwreck Preserve. The Museum Division also assists with the monitoring and maintenance of St. Clement’s Island State Park and the U.S. Colored Troops Interpretive Center.

About the American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community. For more information, visit www.aam-us.org.