Cincinnati Museum Center and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center have again achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums, the highest national recognition afforded the nation’s museums.
CMC first received accreditation in 2012 and the Freedom Center in 2014.
Of the nation’s estimated 33,000 museums, less than 2,000 – roughly 6% – are currently accredited. Accreditation brings national recognition to a museum for its commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards and continued institutional improvement. It is the field’s primary vehicle for quality assurance, self-regulation and public accountability. Accreditation is a rigorous process that examines all aspects of a museum’s operations through a year of self-study and a site visit by a team of peer reviewers.
“Accredited museums are a community of institutions that have chosen to hold themselves publicly accountable to excellence,” said Laura L. Lott, president and CEO of the American Alliance of Museums. “Accreditation is clearly a significant achievement, of which both the institutions and the communities they serve can be extremely proud.”
Through the reaccreditation process, peer reviewers remarked on CMC’s exhibits and guest experience and its exemplary collections facilities. CMC was praised for its ongoing efforts to digitize its collections for researchers and educations and the acquisition of significant collections since 2014, including a substantial invertebrate fossil collection from the University of Minnesota.
The Cincinnati History Library and Archives was also a standout, noted for being a terrific asset for the public. The 20,000-acre Richard & Lucile Durrell Edge of Appalachia Preserve System, co-owned and co-managed by CMC in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, was also recognized as a model of interpretive practices and for its access and preservation of three National Natural Landmarks.
Reviewers were also impressed by CMC’s Early Childhood Science Inquiry Teacher Education (ECSITE) program. The program helps early childhood educators become more proficient in inquiry-based science activities for their students, in turn increasing their students’ knowledge and comprehension of critical science concepts. As a community resource, CMC’s Curate My Community initiative that displayed over 700 objects across Greater Cincinnati was recognized as a model that holds great promise for the museum field as an experiment in deep community engagement.
Throughout the process, reviewers recognized the significance of the 2016-2018 Union Terminal restoration project that fulfilled a significant objective in CMC’s strategic plan and expanded its capabilities as an organization.
“Being recognized once again as an accredited museum is an honor we share as an organization of skilled, passionately dedicated individuals committed to the excellence of our museum,” said Elizabeth Pierce, president and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “Museums are a vital contributor to a vibrant, connected community and we’re delighted to provide a brilliant space of exploration for curious kids, adults, researchers, educators and more.”
During their visit, reaccreditation reviewers noted the significant addition of an experienced curator to the Freedom Center’s team, adding to collections care and research capacities for the organization. The Freedom Center’s DEAI initiatives were also noted. The Freedom Center Teen Docent program, which offers Greater Cincinnati high school students the opportunity to improve their historical acumen and professional leadership skills in a museum environment, was recognized for creating a bridge of knowledge between the Underground Railroad Era and social justice movements of today. Additionally, the Freedom Center’s online DEAI presence and growing implicit bias programs were lauded for their reach into the community, schools, universities, corporations and professional sports teams.
“Reaccreditation is a testament to the efforts of our team and the drive for excellence we share as an organization to be a community anchor and a keeper of our shared cultural history,” said Woodrow Keown, Jr., president and COO of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “We thank the committee for acknowledging our work and continued growth as an organization.”
As part of the standard reaccreditation process, both CMC and the Freedom Center will be up for review again in 2032.