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Hastings Museum Receives Highest National Recognition

Accreditation from the American Association of Museums acknowledges Hastings Museum’s commitment to excellence and professional standards.

HASTINGS, Neb., Aug. 10, 2011 – The Hastings Museum announced today that it has achieved accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). This is the highest national recognition for a museum. Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, to governments, supporters, outside agencies and to the museum-going public.

“We are extremely excited to share this announcement,” said Becky Matticks, the Museum’s director. “Many wonderful people have worked very hard to achieve this recognition. Those who volunteer, serve as staff, Trustees or Foundation Board members and supporters all deserve considerable credit for the museum’s success.”

AAM_Emblem_FullColor_CS5 copyAAM Accreditation is the museum community’s primary vehicle for quality assurance, self-regulation and public accountability. Hastings Museum earned national recognition for a commitment to excellence in all that it does: governance, collections stewardship, public programs, financial stability, high professional standards and continued institutional improvement. Developed and sustained by museum professionals for 35 years, AAM’s Museum Accreditation program strengthens the profession by promoting best practices. It also allocates resources wisely and provides the best possible service to the public.

Of the estimated 17,500 museums in the United States, less than 5 percent meet the professional standards and best practices required by accreditation. The Hastings Museum joins this exclusive club and is only the sixth museum in Nebraska to be accredited. Other accredited Nebraska museums include the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, the Museum of Nebraska History, the Sheldon Museum of Art, the University of Nebraska State Museum in Lincoln and the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Grand Island.

Audio Files

For audio from our news conference, please click a name below.Becky Matticks, Museum Director (1:40)

Bonnie Styles, Chair of the AAM Accreditation Committee (2:33)

“Accreditation assures the people of Hastings and all of Nebraska that the Hastings Museum is among the finest in the nation,” said Ford W. Bell, president of AAM. “As a result, the citizens can take considerable pride in their homegrown institution for its commitment to excellence and for the value it brings to the community and region.”

Accreditation is a rigorous process that examines all aspects of a museum’s operations. To earn accreditation, a museum first must conduct a year of detailed self-study, then undergo a site visit by a team of peer reviewers. AAM’s Accreditation Commission, an independent and autonomous body of museum professionals, then review and evaluate the self-study and visiting committee’s report to determine whether a museum should receive accreditation. While the time to complete the process varies by museum, it generally takes three years.

“The accreditation process really helped us develop a clearer sense of purpose and a better understanding of our strengths, goals, priorities and mission.  This applies to all areas of the Hastings Museum, including exhibits, programs, the theatre and planetarium,” Matticks said. “It was a great opportunity for everyone connected to the Hastings Museum to be more thoughtful about their efforts and raise the bar even higher.”

Founded in 1927, Hastings Museum in Hastings, Neb., is the largest municipal museum between Chicago and Denver. Featuring a giant screen theatre and planetarium, the Museum houses dozens of animal species set in their natural habitats. It also chronicles the history of the early inhabitants of the Nebraska plains and how Kool-Aid, the famous soft drink invented in Hastings, came to be such a success. For more, go to www.HastingsMuseum.org.

The American Association of Museums is based in Washington, D.C., and has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. For more, visit http://www.aam-us.org/

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