Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site Receives prestigious Museum Accreditation
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site has been awarded accreditation from the American Association of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition for a museum. Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, to governments, funders, outside agencies, and most importantly, to the museum-going public.
AAM Accreditation is the field’s primary vehicle for quality assurance, self-regulation, and public accountability, and earns national recognition for a museum for its commitment to excellence in all that it does: governance, collections stewardship, public programs, financial stability, high professional standards, and continued institutional improvement. Developed and sustained by museum professionals for 35 years, the museum accreditation program strengthens the profession by promoting practices and standards used by museum staff to make informed decisions, protect and preserve collections, and to provide the best possible service to the public.
“We are very pleased to be recognized for the park’s museum collections and resources, the professionalism of our staff, and our commitment to providing excellent programming and visitor experiences” said site superintendent, BJ Dunn. “Our visitor satisfaction rate has consistently been in the 90th percentile the past few years. Byron Bell, President of the Saint-Gaudens Memorial, the site’s non-profit operating partner, stated that “The park and its staff should be commended for their dedication to managing a museum of a caliber necessary to receive this prestigious designation.”
Of the nation’s estimated 17,500 museums, 775 are currently accredited. Saint-Gaudens NHS is one of only four museums accredited in New Hampshire, joining the Currier Museum of Art, the Hood Museum of Art and the Museum of New Hampshire History. The site is just one of nine units (out of 391) of the National Park Service that have received this designation. In 2008, only six museums were newly nationally accredited and 15 others we re-accredited.
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 then undergo a site visit by a team of peer reviewers. AAM’s Accreditation Commission, an independent and autonomous body of museum professionals, review and evaluate the self-study and visiting committee report to determine whether a museum should receive accreditation. While the time to complete the process varies by museum, it generally takes three years. “Accreditation assures museum goers that this museum is among the finest in the nation,” said Ford W. Bell, president of AAM. Once accredited, a museum remains so for ten years, then it must go through a thorough review process.
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site features the studios, home, gardens, and artwork of Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907), one of America's greatest sculptors. The site preserves a collection of nearly 10,000 museum objects. Over 100 of Saint-Gaudens’ original artworks may be seen on the grounds and in the galleries, from heroic public monuments to expressive portrait reliefs, and the gold coins which changed the look of American coinage. Saint-Gaudens’ home, “Aspet”, contains its original family furnishings. The 150-acre park also includes formal gardens and two miles of nature trails.
During the last three years the site completed several major accomplishments including a new, hour-long documentary film on Augustus Saint-Gaudens that will be broadcast this year on national PBS. A two-year, traveling exhibition of 120 of Saint-Gaudens’ works went to thirteen museum venues in the United States and one in Europe, and in 2005, staged performances of the pageant, Masque of the Golden Bowl, to commemorate the centennial of the original performance in 1905.
The American Association 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. With more than 15,000 individual, 3,000 institutional, and 300 corporate members, AAM is dedicated to ensuring that museums remain a vital part of the American landscape, connecting people with the greatest achievements of the human experience, past, present and future. For more information, visit www.aam-us.org.