Accreditation update given seal of approval

Updated version of industry standard introduces extended period of Accreditation and simplifies the process. Rob Sharp reports
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Rob Sharp
Museums have largely welcomed the revamped Accreditation scheme’s greater clarity and simplicity.

A refreshed version of the scheme, the UK industry standard for museums and galleries, was unveiled in November by Arts Council England (ACE), the Welsh government, Museums Galleries Scotland and the Northern Ireland Museums Council. Accreditation agrees national standards on how museums are run, how they manage their collections and the quality of user experiences.

Changes include extending the Accreditation period from three to five years, and clarifying the 2011 Accreditation standard and guidance documents. Scott Furlong, the director, collections and cultural property, at ACE, says: “One of the clearest pieces of feedback we got over a number of years was having to get the tone and feel of the communications around the scheme right.”  

Furlong adds that the aim of the change “was to go back to first principles, so as to establish what the purpose of Accreditation is, and to be clear why we’re doing it. That enabled us to look at the standard itself and the questions we asked around it, to see how they delivered. That helped us produce a simpler standard that was better described.”  

Annette French, the museums accreditation manager at ACE, says: “I was buoyed by feedback from a small heritage centre in Shetland, which had a tricky time with internet connections. Their email back to us said thank you for listening.

“That spoke volumes about the consultation we’ve undertaken throughout the process, and the fact that the changes we’ve implemented reflect the smaller, volunteer- run museums’ concerns about the scheme.”  

Pretty positive  

Kevin Gosling, the chief executive at the Collections Trust, says: “People are pretty positive and appreciate the renewal time being extended. The ACE team did an extensive consultation and the things we suggested have been reflected in the end result. The revised standards are much clearer and the tone is more user friendly.”  

Triona White Hamilton, the development officer (collections and museums), Northern Ireland Museums Council, says: “The recent review was needed to bring the scheme up to date. It showed that museums do value the scheme and consider it transformative, but it also confirmed some key issues.  

“Listening to the sector has helped us shape what we hope will be a scheme that is managed more effectively, is more efficient for users and communicates the benefits and achievements of Accreditation more clearly.”

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