Museum Accreditation Scheme
The Accreditation Scheme sets nationally agreed standards for museums in the UK. There are currently just under 1,800 museums participating in the scheme, demonstrating their commitment to managing collections effectively for the enjoyment and benefit of users.
The Museum Registration Scheme was established in 1988. Since then it has supported museums across the UK to focus on standards and identify areas for development. In 2004, the scheme was renamed Accreditation to better reflect its purpose. The scheme was relaunched on November 2018 following a review. The review was needed to bring the scheme up to date; it showed that museums do value the scheme, and consider it transformative, but also confirmed some key issues. Participating museums currently use the 2018 standard and guidance, this guidance is under review in 2023 with the aim of making the guidance clearer, more accessible and relevant to the current needs of museums.
The scheme is administered by Arts Council England (ACE) in partnership with MALD: A division of the Welsh Government, Museums Galleries Scotland, and the Northern Ireland Museums Council. Accreditation is regarded as one of the most innovative and effective developments in the museum sector. It has led the way in raising museum standards in the UK, and has been used as a model and source of inspiration for similar schemes overseas.
If you’re new to the scheme, please find further guidance on our how to apply page.
For museums already in the scheme, read more below.
The Benefits of Museum Accreditation
Accreditation provides UK museums with a clear set of Nationally agreed standards to work towards. Achieving Accreditation will build public, government and funders’ confidence in how museums manage collections in trust for society, and how they manage public resources. Accreditation itself will enhance a museum’s presence and reputation and so aid their fundraising, political and social clout. Following the UK Accreditation Scheme process will assist museums to develop the following:
A Healthy Sustainable Organisation
Essentially museums prove that they are well run.
- They will have appropriate governance and management.
- Undertake forward business planning and have ability to adapt in a changing environment.
- Assess and manage risk – secure occupancy, assessed security arrangements, effective emergency planning.
The scheme can be transformative:
- It can reinforce a shared, ethical way of doing things for everyone involved in running a museum.
- Develop a workforce which is more strategic, better planned, and skilled to deliver results. As a consequence the workforce are happier in their roles.
- It can help secure the future of the museum by assisting in obtaining funding and building a sustainable future.
Well Managed Collections
Museums will demonstrate they:
- Have clear responsibility over their collections and a policy on how it will develop
- Hold a high standard of collection documentation so that information is both usable and useful.
- Will implement Collections care and conservation policies.
The scheme provides support:
- If required, museums can access an Accreditation Mentor who are experienced professionals in the sector, this means smaller museums can receive further support to achieve and retain the standards of accreditation.
- Museums benefit from NIMC’s bespoke support, advice and guidance to achieve, maintain and improve on these standards. For example they can benefit from taking part in research such as ‘Museum Trends’.
An Engaged, Enthused and Varied Audience
The museum will also Engage a diversity of users and provide a high standard of experience. The museum will:
- Have an Access policy that covers how people can see, use, and reference the collections, as well as access the building and how information is shared with users.
- Understand and Develop audiences. Identify users and non- users. Evaluate and use feedback to discover users’ needs and inform the development plan.
- Engage with users and improve their experience. Providing stimulating learning and discovery experiences through exhibitions and programming based on the collections. And to communicate to audiences through a range of access, marketing and promotional activities.
The scheme benefits society:
- By encouraging improved access and engagement for all.
Museums are periodically required to provide evidence that they continue to comply with the Accreditation Standard through the returns process.
There are currently 42 Accredited Museums in Northern Ireland which are highlighted on our Museum Member pages.
Existing participants will be invited to provide a return through a staged roll out detailed in our returns schedule.
Guidance documents to support you in your return can be found on our Accreditation Documents page. Returns should be undertaken through an online application called Grantium hosted by Arts Council England (ACE).
Museums can now register and start preparing applications on Grantium using the Access Grantium button in the ‘Get Started’ section of the ACE page.
Step by step guidance to using Grantium tailored for Accreditation is available in the ‘Help using Grantium’ section.
If you have any technical queries about using Grantium their customer enquiries team can provide user guidance and support.
To get started on Grantium, museums and galleries will first need to set up a user account and applicant profile if they haven’t already used this before. Once validated, they’ll be able to start working on their application or return on Grantium.
The new terms and conditions for the Scheme have also been published. These are completed electronically as part of the declaration on Grantium when making a return or application so they don’t need to be signed offline and sent in.