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Museum Accreditation Light Touch Review

Museum Accreditation review update – October 2017

Museum Accreditation Review FAQs

As many of you will be aware we are currently undertaking a review of Museum Accreditation and we have been inundated with questions. The Accreditation UK Partners thought it might be helpful to provide some responses to some of the most frequently asked ones. 


         Will the definition of a museum change?

We use the Museums Association (MA) definition of a museum and will continue to do so This is not within scope for the review.

         We don’t operate a traditional museum service. Does the review mean we might be eligible to apply now?

The museum must be a long-term organisation that exists to benefit the public and protect collections. It must have an appropriate and acceptable constitution for the governing body.

Accreditation itself is awarded on a site basis, to individual museums. If you do not fulfil this criteria you are unlikely to be eligible for the Scheme.


         Why is it called a ‘light-touch’ review?

The description as ‘light-touch’ is because we are not reviewing the fundamental role of the Accreditation Scheme as a baseline standard and professional award. Instead we are looking at where the standard is focussed and the processes and support around the Scheme to ensure it is as effective as possible.

         Why is the review being led by Arts Council England?

Under the terms of the UK Partnership Agreement, Arts Council England coordinates the Scheme on behalf of the UK Partners - the Welsh Government, Museums Galleries Scotland and the Northern Ireland Museums Council.  It is therefore appropriate for the review to be led by Arts Council England in conjunction with all of the UK Partners, who will all be responsible for delivering the outcomes of the review.

         What is the point of Accreditation?

The Scheme is a recognised professional Standard. Importantly, the scheme provides a tool to help you assess your own performance as a museum to develop in your collection care and public access. The award also inspires confidence for funders and lenders. More information can be found here


         To what extent is the review a guidance review and what will this look like?

As the Standard itself is currently being reviewed the guidance will also be fully reviewed and updated to ensure that the documents are completely aligned.

         Will the returns schedule change?Does this still mean we have to provide another return within three years as per the original schedule?

 It is possible that the schedule will change, following feedback that a longer period between returns would help better support organisational planning. We will be consulting with you later in the year, to seek views on this.

         Will the online Accreditation application system change?

We do wish to improve the online application system and respond to feedback from the review so this will change, we are currently assessing options for what this new system will be and when we will be ready to launch it. We want to ensure that revised Standard is right before committing to the new online system.

         We’ve already started work towards our next review which is due in 2018 – will you still accept returns which have been prepared against the current Standard once the new one is published?

There will be a crossover period when we will be accepting returns from the 2011 and revised Standard. We will provide clearer guidance when we have consulted on the possibility of a revised schedule. We will ensure that the introduction of the revised standard does not create unreasonable new requirements on applicants due to make a return’

         We are working towards Accreditation and looking to apply for the first time next year. What should we do?

Please continue to develop your application based on the current Standard and guidance. We will continue to accept new applications developed against the 2011 Standard throughout 2018. More advice and support is available from your local Museum Development team/ Accreditation Advisor.

         I’m a mentor. How will I know what the implications are for my museum? What support or opportunities for feedback will there be for me? Mentoring isn’t working. Is there any way you can be more flexible?

We have recognised that mentoring is a priority work area for the review. We will be consulting with existing and potential new mentors and museum development colleagues to help shape a more sustainable future model of mentoring.

         How do we respond to the new Spectrum 5.0 requirements? 

As part of the review we are looking to incorporate the Spectrum 5 primary procedures into the updated Standard.

         We are transferring our charitable trust to (S)CIO status before our next due return. As it’s a new governing body will we have to start Accreditation all over again from scratch under the new Scheme?

Accredited museums which are transferring to (S)CIO will usually constitute a 'significant change' in terms of Accreditation, as the legal entity responsible for the museum is now different.

This may result in a temporary status change within Accreditation because the new constitution and management arrangement will need to be looked at as part of an eligibility assessment. We do recognise the benefits that a transfer to (S)CIO can bring, we must however also be mindful of the ultimate aims of Accreditation are to protect and enhance the care and enjoyment of museum collections for public benefit.

As part of the review we will be looking to develop further guidance for museums transferring to a (S)CIO. We want the process to be as simple as possible for already Accredited museums, but do need to ensure that the new constitution is appropriate for running a museum and holding a collection for public benefit – a core purpose of the scheme.

         We have changed governance since we originally submitted our return and are caught up in the backlog. What do we need to do?

Please get in touch with us and let us know what’s changed, once assigned your assessor will get in touch with you and ask for any additional information.

         Who do I contact for more information about the review? / How can I feed into the review

Ellie Collier is the Senior Project Manager for the review Please email to contact her.




Museum Accreditation review update – June 2017

In January this year we announced that we will be undertaking a review of certain aspects of the Museum Accreditation Scheme. Planning and scoping for the review is underway and has been shaped by the UK Accreditation Partners (Arts Council England, Museums Galleries Scotland, the Welsh Government, and Northern Ireland Museums Council) and wider stakeholders including Museum Development Network, the Accreditation Committee, and the Association of Independent Museums.

Particular areas of focus for the review will include:

         Improving the communications about the Scheme – we want to make sure we’re celebrating the significant achievements of museums and that the benefits of participation are being promoted.

         Looking at the process of applying and the schedule for returning participants – we want the process to be as user-friendly and as clear as possible for those involved and the schedule to be appropriate and sustainable.

         Reviewing the Standard and the scalability – we know that the types of museums involved in the Scheme varies hugely so it’s important to ensure that Accreditation is a useful health-check and a meaningful achievement for museums of all sizes. We want to ensure Accreditation is focused in the places where it can have most impact.

         Supporting museums interested in applying to the Scheme– we’d like to encourage museums of all sizes to apply and this requires clearer eligibility guidance and updated information around governance models being available.

         Reviewing the Museum Mentor criteria– we want to make sure we are doing everything we can to ensure a sustainable approach to professional advice. The review will help support and thank mentors for their role with volunteer-led museums as they are a vital part of the scheme.

         Looking at our internal processes - we are aware that there have been some issues with our internal processes and we are sorry that some of you will have been affected by this. We will be putting in place robust measures to ensure smooth running of the Scheme in future.

A Senior Project Manager for the Accreditation Review has been appointed. Ellie Collier started in post at the end of May on a 10 month contract. Priorities include developing the detail of the project plan and setting up an External Reference Group to help guide the review.

There will be opportunities to input into the review later in the year, but in the meantime if you want to raise points which are relevant for the review please email:

The refreshed Accreditation Scheme will be re-launched in Spring 2018 to coincide with the scheme’s 30th anniversary. In the meantime we’ll keep you updated as the review progresses.