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Mar 31

Johnson County Museum Receives Highest National Recognition

Posted on March 31, 2022 at 1:00 PM by Becky Burnside

AAM Logo for blogThe Johnson County Museum has achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition afforded the nation’s museums. Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, to governments, funders, outside agencies, and to the museum-going public. Only approximately 3% of the nation’s museums have this distinction. 

AAM Accreditation brings national recognition to a museum for its commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards, and continued institutional improvement. Developed and sustained by museum professionals for 50 years, the Alliance’s museum accreditation program is the field’s primary vehicle for quality assurance, self-regulation, and public accountability. It strengthens the museum profession by promoting practices that enable leaders to make informed decisions, allocate resources wisely, and remain financially and ethically accountable in order to provide the best possible service to the public. 

“Today we officially celebrate what those of us at JCPRD have already known for some time - that the Johnson County Museum shines in excellence and best practices in providing our county’s citizens with exceptional quality and life-enhancing experiences,” said JCPRD Executive Director Jeff Stewart. “We are truly blessed for the many opportunities to learn about our history and celebrate the moments that have made Johnson County…well, Johnson County. My heartiest congratulations to the Johnson County Museum boards and the exceptional and dedicated staff. We’re so proud that the museum is a part of the JCPRD family!”

The three-year journey to the Johnson County Museum’s first-ever national accreditation was a team effort that included the museum staff, Johnson County Museum Foundation Board of Directors, Museum Advisory Council, and support from both JCPRD and Johnson County Government. 

“This achievement is the culmination of years of hard work by our staff and boards,” said Johnson County Museum Director Mary McMurray. “While we are honored to be recognized as a national leader in the museum field, the biggest honor is knowing that we have served our community and local history at the highest possible level.” 

“The Johnson County Museum is a treasure and important resource for our community,” said Johnson County Museum Foundation Board President Lonita Cook. “The Johnson County Museum Foundation is proud to support the work of the Johnson County Museum – including the successful effort to achieve national accreditation for the first time ever.”

Of the nation’s estimated 33,000 museums, 1,095 are accredited – including two in the Greater Kansas City area. The Johnson County Museum is one of 11 accredited museums in Kansas. 

“Not only is the Johnson County Museum an excellent amenity for our county, it is a valuable attraction for the region and beyond,” said Johnson County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Ed Eilert. “Fewer than 30 of the nation’s more than 3,000 counties are home to an accredited museum, placing Johnson County in the top 1% of the nation’s county museums. We congratulate the museum for its national accreditation and encourage everyone to visit, and find out why Johnson County is a premier place to live, work, play, and learn.”

The AAM report, issued following a two-day site visit, praised the Johnson County Museum’s research, collections support, educational programs, and dynamic and motivated staff. Additionally, the reviewers celebrated the museum’s position within the Johnson County Park and Recreation District (JCPRD) as a key strength to the museum’s operations. 

“In the five years since the Johnson County Museum opened in the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center and became part of the JCPRD Culture Division, it has been transformative for both organizations,” said JCPRD Board Chair Heather Rubesch. “A true example of how the parts can be greater than the whole through the strength of shared vision and collaboration. While the national accreditation is new, the commitment to excellence and the high quality of programming across the museum and JCPRD are enjoyed by visitors to the museum, those who see the historical markers in our parks, and experience the museum's educational programs such as camps, lectures, and field trips throughout the year. We look forward to additional collaborations between the museum and the other divisions of JCPRD as we seek new ways to bring Johnson County’s history and culture to the community in diverse and accessible ways.”

Accreditation is a very rigorous but highly-rewarding process that examines all aspects of a museum’s operations. To earn accreditation a museum first must conduct a year of self-study, and then undergo a site visit by a team of peer reviewers. The Alliance’s Accreditation Commission, an independent and autonomous body of museum professionals, considers the self-study and visiting committee report to determine whether a museum should receive accreditation. 

“Accredited museums are a community of institutions that have chosen to hold themselves publicly accountable to excellence,” said Alliance President and CEO Laura L. Lott. “Accreditation is clearly a significant achievement, of which both the institutions and the communities they serve can be extremely proud.” 

About the Johnson County Museum

The Johnson County Museum showcases Johnson County’s unique stories through collections, programs, and exhibitions at its iconic venues. Featuring “Becoming Johnson County,” the museum’s signature exhibit; KidScape, a fully immersive, interactive history experience that encourages children to explore different time periods and communities; a Special Exhibit Gallery, which currently features REDLINED: Cities, Suburbs, and Segregation; and a variety of public programs, the Johnson County Museum invites learners of all ages to visit the museum to learn more about Johnson County and the history of suburbia. The Johnson County Museum also operates the Lanesfield Historic Site. 

The Johnson County Museum is a department of the Johnson County Park and Recreation District and is located within the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center at 8788 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park. The Museum is open Monday through Saturday, 9 am to 4:30 pm. 

About the American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums 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. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community. For more information, visit aam-us.org.