The Arkansas Arts Center (AAC), the state’s leader in international, visual and performing arts, has again achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums, the highest national recognition afforded the nation’s museums.
“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.”
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 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.
“Earning accreditation is a milestone for any institution,” said Todd Herman, Executive Director at the AAC. “It’s a very detailed and in-depth process. I am proud of our entire staff and teams whose hard work led us to achieving reaccreditation.”
All museums must undergo a reaccreditation review at least every 10 years to maintain accredited status. Of the nation’s estimated 35,000 museums, more than 1000 are currently accredited. The AAC is one of only five accredited museums in Arkansas. Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, to governments, funders, outside agencies, and to the museum-going public.
Accreditation is a very 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. 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.
“We commend the Arts Center for expanding its outreach locally and statewide; this has clearly led to widespread community support and acclaim,” said Burt Logan, chair of the AAM Accreditation Commission and Executive Director and CEO of the Ohio History Commission. “Your accomplishments in fundraising, aligning resources and strengthening your relationship with the City of Little Rock demonstrate the Art Center’s leadership and positive impact on those it serves.”
The peer reviewers reported that management and storage of the AAC permanent collection was impeccable, and the significant gift of 290 drawings and watercolors by the American Modernist John Marin clearly demonstrated the institutional strength of the AAC and will serve as a further catalyst for a planned expansion. The gift makes the AAC the second largest holder of Marin works in the world.
The peer reviewers also found the AAC’s educational outreach programs to be impressive, with many constituents’ initial contact with the AAC through its award-winning Children’s Theatre, the Museum School or statewide travelling education programs, including traveling theatre and the Artmobile. These outreach programs see more than 300,000 visitors per year on average. Combined with the AAC’s more than 300,000 onsite visitors, and the result is an impressive annual attendance of more than 600,000. The peer reviewers stated that for an institution of this size, staffing and level of funding, these statistics were exemplary.
The AAM Accreditation Commission found that with the AAC Foundation’s impressive support, the consistent giving of the AAC Board of Trustees, the growing generosity of the City of Little Rock, and the expression of support recently made by the voters of Little Rock, the AAC appears poised to take the next important step in its institutional life.
“They also have put the museum back on solid footing with its peer institutions, and turned the AAC into a catalyst for community pride and economic redevelopment in downtown Little Rock. It is an impressive turnaround.”