Polk Museum of Art

Lakeland, FL




Polk Museum of Art Re-Accredited by AAM


The Polk Museum of Art has again in 1999 been awarded the highest honor a museum can receive: Accreditation by the American Association of Museums (AAM). The Museum was originally accredited in 1983, and this latest honor marks more than a decade of work towards achieving Re-Accreditation. The Polk Museum of Art is the only accredited art museum serving the 450,000-plus residents of Polk County, plus the central Florida counties of Highlands, Hardee, Osceola, Okeechobee, Pasco, Lake and Sumter.

Accreditation certifies that a museum operates according to standards set forth by the museum profession, manages its collections responsibly, and provides quality service to the public. Of the 8,000 museums nationwide, less than 800 are accredited. The AAM is a national organization, with its headquarters in Washington, D.C., that has served the museum profession since 1906. It counts more than 15,000 active members.

"We hope the residents of Polk County share our pride in having again earned this prestigious honor," said Daniel E. Stetson, executive director of the Polk Museum of Art. "This process was rigorous and demanding, as we examined virtually every aspect of our Museum's operations. In fact, a year of self-study and an on-site review by a team of experienced museum professionals was required. We invite everyone in our community to help us celebrate this award by visiting the Museum and exploring its fine programs and exhibits."

Achievement of accreditation by the AAM is the museum field's primary vehicle for quality assurance and public accountability. The process provides a thoughtful framework, through self-study and peer review, for assessing how well a museum meets current standards and continues to engage in institutional improvement.

The Polk Museum of Art's road to Re-Accreditation included an intensive self-study consisting of a lengthy questionnaire and a long list of required support documents. It is designed to gather detailed information about all aspects of the Museum's operations, mission, goals, and to demonstrate that the Museum meets eligibility requirements. The self-study period is one year, and the Museum's self-study was submitted in Spring 1997. After the self-study process is complete, all participating museums must undergo an on-site evaluation by a Visiting Committee. The Polk Museum of Art was reviewed in November 1998 by Committee Chair Steven L. Brezzo, director of the San Diego Museum of Art, and Harold B. Nelson, director of the Long Beach Museum of Art. Both members were chosen by the AAM from a roster of more than 400 museum professionals who have direct experience with the accreditation process and who are conversant in standards throughout the field.

The committee visit was designed to verify that Museum's operations and practices reflect those described in the self-study, gather new information, and seek clarification of facts. The committee submitted a report to the AAM and recommended Re-Accreditation based on their findings.

In particular, the report singled out the Museum's "wide-ranging collections and its multifaceted exhibitions, educational programs and special events." According to the report, the Museum is "well-managed by a talented team of museum professionals and is highly-regarded by its community." And, the report noted that, "From its tour programs, which reached every fifth grader in the county (approximately 6,000 children) to its partnership with the school district on the Harrison Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, the Polk Museum of Art is serving as a significant cultural and educational resource to its community."

The Museum received notification of the renewal of its accredited status in April 1999 from the Accreditation Commission of the AAM. Accreditation status is maintained annually and is required to be reviewed within ten years. The AAM will initiate the Polk Museum of Art's next formal review in 2007, with a goal of being completed by 2009.

The Polk Museum of Art is a private non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the arts in Central Florida. It is the only accredited art museum serving the 450,000 residents of Polk County and surrounding areas and has had a policy of free admission since its founding in 1966. The Museum is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its building, located near historic downtown Lakeland.

Read more about the Polk Museum of Art in Resource Library Magazine.

Search for more articles and essays on American art in Resource Library. See America's Distinguished Artists for biographical information on historic artists.

This page was originally published in 1999 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information.

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