An accreditation scheme for museums is a scheme that ‘sets out nationally-agreed standards, which inspire the confidence of the public and funding and governing bodies.
It enables museums to assess their current performance, as well as supporting them to plan and develop their services.’ (Arts Council UK) In other words, it is a tool that shows museums the minimal standards of how a professional museum should work. Museums that perform above the minimal standards are accredited. This gives peers and other stakeholders more trust in museums and will help the development of the sector.
Countries with an accreditation scheme
There are different forms of accreditation on who offers it and sets the standards. Within Europe there are 3 options:
- the state or a supportive service from the state offers it,
- a non-governmental supportive service offers it (like a museums association)
- or there is no accreditation scheme.
It is common in every country that state subsidized museums are being monitored by the national government. This is not regarded a form of accreditation in this research.
Accreditation scheme and deaccessioning
An accreditation scheme can ensure that minimal standards for collecting policies are followed, meaning that a written acquisition policy and/or deaccessioning policy exists and obliging museums to follow their own policies.
A good collections policy makes sure the continuity of the collection is secured, by clearly describing the collections profile. This in turn makes sure that deaccessioning is only used, when an object or a group of objects does not fit the collections profile. It ensures deaccessioning processes are executed on a proper manner, as well as it secures the collections from being used as profitable assets by governments, without good knowledge of the collection or its plans. Being obliged to follow the rules to stay an accredited museum, a museum can fight of governmental threads by showing them the plans and the effects of not obliging.
In most countries, being accredited helps in getting more or easier funding.
Countries with an accreditation scheme
Austria has an official form of museum accreditation called Quality Assurance (Österreichisches Museumsgütesiegel), organized bot by the Austrian Museumsbund (Museumsbund Österreich) and ICOM Austria.
Denmark has no official museums accreditation scheme. However the Agency for Culture and Castles does make a difference between state owned and subsidized museums and those that are not state owned or subsidized.
France has an official accreditation scheme, called Appellation Musée de France that is administered bij the Service des Musées, a national agency that is part of the Ministry of Culture.
Greece has an official museum accreditation scheme, that is administered by the Ministry of Culture.
Ireland has an accreditation scheme for museums, called the Museum Standards Programme, administered by the Irish Heritage Council. One of the requirements is the existence of a deaccessioning or disposal guideline.
Latvia has a museum accreditation scheme, administered by the state.
Poland does have a official accreditation scheme for museums, administered by the Ministry of Culture.
Portugal has an official museum accreditation scheme, administered by the Portuguese Network of Museums.
Romania has a museum accreditation scheme, administered by the state.
Slovakia has an official museum Accreditation scheme, called the Register.Act on museums and galleries §5 The Register
The Netherlands have a accreditation scheme that is administered by the Dutch Museums Register.
The UK has a museum Accreditation Scheme, administered by the Arts Council.
The scheme states that: ‘The museum must have an approved policy for developing collections (also known as an acquisition and disposal policy). The policy must include: 2.2.1 Statement of purpose 2.2.2 Overview of current collections 2.2.3 Future themes and collecting 2.2.4 Themes and priorities for rationalisation and disposal 2.2.5 Information on the legal framework for acquisition and disposal’