Museum PR Announcements News and Information

Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art announced that they have been accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM)

The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art announced that they have been accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition for a museum. Marilyn Laufer, director, was joined by Auburn president Jay Gogue and Douglas Jones, director of Florida’s Museum of Natural History and AAM board member, in announcing the recognition in front of members and state, university and community leaders. “Having all of you here for this official announcement is meaningful and very heartening,” said Laufer. “This was not something we could accomplish without your support.” Gogue congratulated the museum staff and supporters on the accomplishment in light of state education budget cuts. “In the last five years we at Auburn have lost $465 million dollars from the state,” said Gogue. “To be able to move us from where we were, to this level of distinction in very tough economic times is a testament to each one of you here today.” Gogue said that the number of different academic programs throughout the university that have linkages within the museum was impressive. “Across this campus, from engineering to agriculture to all the different fields, there’s been engagement and involvement that enriches the lives of our students.”

Educational outreach was one of the aspects of the museum that most impressed the American Alliance of Museums commission. “I reviewed the submission, and Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art more than measures up,” said Douglas Jones during the announcement. “Accreditation means that the museum has demonstrated a commitment to excellence in everything that it does: in the governance, in the public programs, its collections stewardships, its strategic and financial planning in its overall operations,” said Jones. AAM accreditation is the industry standard for evaluating the museum profession and signifies an achievement of the highest excellence, with approximately only six-percent of the nation’s museums having this distinction. According to the AAM, museum accreditation means more opportunity to bring high quality traveling exhibitions and collection loans from other top tier institutions across the nation to Auburn. The distinction also carries significant weight with public and private funding agencies and individual donors, which enables a museum to advance its vision and mission, and encourages an atmosphere of continuous improvement for a sustainable and stronger institution. “By receiving accreditation, the museum has confirmed what the faculty, staff and students here at Auburn University and the people of Alabama likely already knew: it is one of the truly outstanding museums in America,” said Jones.

Developed and used by museum professionals for over 35 years, accreditation is a rigorous process that examines all aspects of a museum’s operations and generally takes three years. “We are a better museum having gone through the accreditation process,” said Marilyn Laufer, director. “The road toward full accreditation really began for the museum three years ago when we completed the Museum Assessment Program, which asked us to review everything from our mission statement to how we identified and engaged our audiences. Our tagline ‘Art Changes Lives’ developed out of that exercise and led us into a full year of internal self-study for our accreditation application.” The process also included a site visit by peer reviewers and culminated in a full submission and site visit report evaluation by the AAM Accreditation Commission. “This has been a rigorous and all-consuming endeavor for our staff, Advisory Board and members of the university administration who were encouraging and supportive as always,” said Laufer.

Andy Tennant, assistant director, said the recognition this year was fitting since professional accreditation has been a goal of the university staff and advisory board since the museum opened 10 years ago. “Accreditation is a special accomplishment that very few museums have attained,” he said. “We are very proud to be able to make this announcement during a very exciting crossroads for the museum.” The museum will celebrate ten years of serving the Auburn campus and East Alabama community on October 4, 2013 with a ticketed reception on the museum grounds for “Out of the Box: A Juried Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition” and the annual free Family Day on October 5, 2013.

Of the nation’s estimated 17,500 museums, 1,005 are currently accredited. Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art is one of only six museums accredited in Alabama, including art museums like Birmingham Museum of Art, Huntsville Museum of Art, Mobile Museum of Art and Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. Auburn is home to the only accredited university art museum in the state. Only 16-percent of university museums are accredited. For more on the museum, visit