Daily News

Springfield Museums Earns Prestigious National Reaccreditation

SPRINGFIELD — On Friday, the Springfield Museums announced reaccreditation by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition for museums. Only 3% of the nation’s 33,000 museums can claim this distinction.

Springfield Museums President and CEO Kay Simpson shared the news in the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts. U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, and state and local legislators were on hand for the announcement.

“Reaccreditation signifies the pinnacle of achievement in the museum field,” Simpson said. “Only museums that adhere to the highest standards in ethics, stewardship, community engagement, and innovation receive this honor. This is a proud moment for the Museums, our city, and the region.”

Added Neal, “as the gold standard for arts and culture in our region, the Springfield Museums is a beloved member of the Springfield community, one whose success I have taken a keen interest in throughout my career. This reaccreditation from the American Alliance of Museums is a testimony to the dedication of Kay Simpson and her team to cultivate an environment for creativity and innovation. The five museums and the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden are institutions of learning for visitors of all ages. With this reaccreditation, we invite everyone to experience the world-class museums we have right here in the city of Springfield.”

Founded in 1906, the AAM is the only organization representing the entire museum field, from art and history museums to science centers and zoos. It began accrediting U.S. museums in 1971.

Recognized as the gold standard for museum excellence, AAM accreditation signifies a museum’s quality and credibility to the museum community, governments and outside agencies, and the museum-going public. It ensures the integrity and accessibility of museum collections, reinforces the educational and public-service roles of museums, and promotes good governance practices and ethical behavior.

The Springfield Museums initially earned accreditation in 2013; to maintain the distinction, museums must undergo a reaccreditation review every 10 years.

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. At the Springfield Museums, this site visit occurred in August, when AAM peer reviewers visited the Quadrangle, spending time in each of the five museums and meeting with staff, administrators, and trustees.

The reviewers submitted their report to the AAM’s accreditation commission, an independent and autonomous body of museum professionals, which then analyzed both the report and the self-study to make the accreditation decision.

In that report, the AAM cited numerous areas in which the Springfield Museums excel, including the emphasis on early literacy across the five-museum campus, as well as in core documents such as the collections plan and governance manual.

“These are outstanding examples of thoughtful documents, crafted collaboratively between staff and trustees, that are models for other museums,” the report said.

In the concluding section of the report, the reviewers wrote that “the Springfield Museums’ leading-edge research at the boyhood home of Ted Geisel, the unique relationship with the Smithsonian Institution, and their deep commitment to diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion efforts that permeate every aspect of their goals and mission make them one of the exemplary organizations in the field.”

Simpson added that “reaccreditation will help the Museums continue to build more momentum to achieve our strategic goals. We are so excited about the future and strongly believe the best is yet to come.”