The Minnesota Historical Society Announces Reaccreditation by the American Alliance of Museums

For immediate release

Release dated: 
January 4, 2022
Media contacts: 

Suzanne Herrick, 612-247-3079, suzanne.herrick@mnhs.org
Julianna Olsen, 651-259-3140, julianna.olsen@mnhs.org

The Minnesota Historical Society Announces Reaccreditation by the American Alliance of Museums

Minnesota Historical Society recognized with the gold standard for museum excellence

The Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) is pleased to announce it has been reaccredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the only organization representing the entire scope of the museum community. According to AAM, accreditation demonstrates the Minnesota Historical Society’s quality and credibility to the entire museum community, to governments and outside agencies and to the museum-going public.

“Reaccreditation upholds that our organization continues to meet national standards and best practices for museums in the United States, and that we remain a community of institutions that have chosen to hold ourselves publicly accountable to excellence,” said Kent Whitworth, director and chief executive officer of the Minnesota Historical Society. “The Minnesota Historical Society has proven through this comprehensive process of self-assessment and peer review to be a responsible steward of our resources, one which is deeply committed to institutional excellence.”

In the AAM reaccreditation report, the visiting committee expresses that in all areas of museum practice—research, collections care, exhibitions, education, publications, public programs and administration—MNHS relies on skilled, knowledgeable and committed staff to carry out its mission, remain relevant to the changing needs and interests of the communities it serves, while making important advances and structural changes to promote the principles of diversity, equity, access and inclusion. 

MNHS a Model Institution
“The Minnesota Historical Society continues to be a model institution in many ways,” wrote Evans Richardson, accreditation commission chair of the American Alliance of Museums. “We commend the Society for its commitment to actively exploring ways to better serve a broad, diverse, and broadening stakeholder base as evidenced in the museum's excellent Institutional Plan.” 

The reaccreditation report also states, that while the environment in which all museums operate has changed dramatically in the past 15 years since MNHS’ last reaccreditation—heightened more recently by the pandemic, economic uncertainty, environmental stress, and ideological polarization—MNHS has adapted appropriately and thoughtfully to these pressures and changing circumstances. Most notable in this regard is the adoption of a new strategic plan (2021-2026) that includes updated and poignant mission and vision statements, clear goals and objectives, and the installation of a culture of inclusion and accountability along with measurable outcomes at all levels of the organization and for all functions.

Accreditation Program and Comments
The Accreditation Program helps to ensure the integrity and accessibility of museum collections, reinforce the educational and public service roles of museums, and promote good governance practices and ethical behavior. To earn accreditation or reaccreditation, a museum submits a self-study questionnaire and key operational documents for evaluation, then undergoes a site visit by a team of peer reviewers which produces a report for the Accreditation Commission. The Commission uses these materials and its collective expertise to determine whether to grant accreditation or reaccreditation. Comments from the reaccreditation report include:

“The organization has completed an inclusive and all-encompassing strategic planning process that sets a bold, purposeful, and sustainable course for the future. The Visiting Committee was very impressed with the width and breath of staff and community engagement and the very purposeful way resources are being aligned with intended outcomes.”

“The strategic plan is of the highest quality, is concise and clear, appears to have garnered significant support and is a signature guiding document to help the organization transition into its inspiring future.”

“Exhibitions, programs, and services are informed by a high degree of scholarship and audience knowledge. The Leadership Team is well credentialed, committed, and demonstrates the hallmarks of a true team. The new strategic plan is outstanding. Clearly, the organization is committed to listening to its staff and external partners and has built trust through a thorough process that resulted in a clear forward path and high levels of energy and enthusiasm. The structure is in place to operationalize the strategic plan.”

About the American Alliance of Museums
The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) is the only organization representing the entire museum field, from art and history museums to science centers and zoos. Since 1906, AAM has been championing museums through advocacy and providing museum professionals with the resources, knowledge, inspiration, and connections they need to move the field forward.

AAM’s Alliance of 35,000 museums and museum professionals seeks to better our communities, and our world, through collaborative human-centered experiences, education, and connection to histories, cultures, the natural world, and one another. AAM’s members spark curiosity and wonder, widen horizons and understanding, and create community connection through a shared commitment to equity and learning. For more information, visit www.aam-us.org.

About the Minnesota Historical Society
The Minnesota Historical Society is a nonprofit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history. Visit us at mnhs.org.