A New Alliance

Most readers realize that AAM has changed its name from the American Association of Museums to the American Alliance of Museums. Along with the name change and new graphic design, AAM has promised changes for members, and several of these open access to the organization’s services. Here are some of the most important changes for small museums:

  • Institutional membership: There are now 3 levels of membership, with “Tier 1” incorporating a “pay what you can” philosophy. Upper levels of membership are either $125 or $150 for the smallest museums, so the Tier 1 option can make a significant difference.
  • Pledge of Excellence:  Member institutions can take this pledge and receive a certificate, as a public statement of the organization’s commitment to following professional standards. The pledge is a much more accessible option than accreditation, although pledging institutions include accredited museums. In North Carolina there are 22 accredited museums. An additional 11 institutions have taken the pledge. (To view list, click here and see pp. 40-42.)

MattEdwardsThe Mount Airy Museum of Regional History is one of the institutions that has taken AAM’s Pledge of Excellence but is a ways off from the accreditation process. Executive Director, Matt Edwards (left), was inspired to take the pledge while attending the Southeastern Museums Conference Jekyll Island Management Institute. “I fully believe in our responsibility to be the best museum we can be…I have a long-range plan for my institution that includes starting to pursue the accreditation process in the next 3-5 years, and [the pledge] publicly acknowledges that first step.”

  • Cooperation with StEPs program: The American Association of State and Local History’s Standards and Excellence Program for history organizations is a self-study designed to help small and mid-sized institutions achieve best practices incrementally.  Many of these smaller museums have not been eligible in the past for AAM accreditation, and while that achievement may still be a long way off, at least now a path is open. The work that institutions do toward StEPs will allow them to engage in a more streamlined approach for AAM’s MAP program as well as accreditation.

How does your institution navigate all the professional services available to it and decide which to work with (i.e. AAM, AASLH, SEMC, NCMC, C2C, NCPC, The Federation, etc.)? Do membership dues and program fees inhibit your organization’s participation? Will any of the above AAM changes make the services it offers more accessible for you?

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About collectionsconversations

This blog will contain posts from the C2C project staff on a variety of topics related to collections care and disaster preparedness. Enjoy the posts and let us know if you would like additional information or have a topic you would like for us to address.

Posted on September 3, 2013, in collections management, museums and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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