In 2009, the Spurlock Museum was awarded accreditation by the American Association of Museums. This is the highest national award a museum can receive, and I'll tell you, the process was NOT an easy, short, or simple one. Our preparation began almost as soon as we opened the new Spurlock Museum building in 2002. First, we spent months filling out a preliminary self-study. This forced us to think about how we run all the different aspects of the Museum and plan for areas where improvement or expansion was necessary. We checked everything, including written policies, educational programs, artifact preservation and storage procedures, information storage, volunteers, security, finances, and exhibit creation.
This self-study was then sent to the American Association of Museums and evaluated. We were told that our self-study proved we were ready for step two, which was the completion of a questionnaire that took us a year to finish. This document asked for incredibly detailed information and lots of pictures. We're talking literally thousands of pages of information....multiple four-inch, three-ring binders.
Once step two was approved, we moved to step three: a site visit by peer advisors, who talked to the staff members about their work and asked specific questions they still had after reading our answers to the questionnaire.
After step three, we waited for the advisors to write their report and the accreditation committee to read it and come to a decision. There was a lot of whooping and hollering the day the news came in!
What does all this mean? It means the Museum has received what every professional institution wants: recognition by its peers that it is following best practices. Of over 17,000 museums in the U.S., only about 775 are accredited. It allows institutions with traveling exhibits to know we have a trustworthy and appropriate venue. It adds to the prestige of the University. It's the Oscar of the Museum world. I'd start thanking everyone who is a part of this incredible staff (and, trust me, none of them are "the little people"), but the orchestra would start playing about halfway through...
Friday, January 22, 2010
Thursday, January 7, 2010
The William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College will be closed for the month of January for needed maintenance. In addition to the replacement of the carpeting in the dome, the dome itself will be cleaned and repainted. The new paint will effectively reduce the reflectance of the dome ahead of the installation of a full-dome digital video system, scheduled for the summer of 2010. The first weekend for public shows will be February 5/6. A full schedule appears at www.parkland.edu/planetarium. Photos of the maintenance work can be found on the Staerkel Planetarium's Facebook site.