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Accreditation modernisation

The MLA has welcomed the findings of two reports based on the views of more than 1000 museum colleagues regarding the value, shortcomings and future of Accreditation and its development.

The MLA has welcomed the findings of two studies which it commissioned to help inform its review of museum Accreditation, and detailed its plans to streamline, update and refocus the scheme.

MLA Chief Executive Roy Clare said: “Accreditation has proven its value over the last 21 years.  As the UK standard for museums it is crucial for the long term success of the sector.

“We are listening and acting on consistent feedback that Accreditation is highly valued and has made a real difference to museums, but it must be less bureaucratic and more representative.  It must also serve as a key tool in the improvement of museum services with a focus on the impact they make for the public.

“We are very grateful for all the feedback, which gives us a very strong base for a refreshed scheme that has simpler process, increased flexibility for museums to demonstrate success, a louder voice for consumers and a demonstration of responsiveness to communities.”

MLA Board member, Glen Lawes, said: “This research shows strong support for an Accreditation scheme owned and improved by the museum sector itself."

The recommendations from the reports, based on the views of more than 1000 museum colleagues regarding the value, shortcomings and future of Accreditation will directly inform its development.

Accreditation: The Way Forward sets out MLA’s response to the recommendations. The reports and the MLA response can be found at:


1. Media enquiries on the development of Accreditation should be directed to Senior Media Relations Adviser, Sunita Sharma, on 020 7273 8299, email:

2. MLA’s Accreditation Scheme sets nationally agreed standards for museums in the UK. The Standard supports museums in identifying opportunities for further improvement and development. There are currently over 1800 museums participating in the Scheme, demonstrating their commitment to managing collections effectively for the enjoyment of all communities. For further information see . The standard was first launched in 1988 after demand by the museum sector.

3. Work on developing Accreditation is being project managed by Isabel Wilson, Project Manager, Quality & Standards, based at MLA’s Birmingham office . Between October 2009-March 2010 small working parties of colleagues across the range of UK museums will be working on developing the requirements of the updated standard.

4a)       What does this mean for museums already Accredited?

•         There will be no new application round for currently Accredited Museums in order to move to the revised scheme, other than the normal Accreditation Returns process (previously known as Biennial Returns). Details of the format for Accreditation Returns will be provided in autumn 2010 but are likely to be substantially similar to the previous returns rounds. Existing participants will be able to respond to the new or revised standard criteria through the Accreditation Returns.

4b)       What does this mean for new applicants?

•         Any museum wishing to apply for Accreditation for the first time should consult first with their Regional Accreditation Adviser to plan a timetable for them to complete an application. Draft guidance for the revised standard will be available in the summer 2010 and final guidance from the autumn.

•         To avoid new applicants completing unnecessary work towards a standard that will shortly be superseded, MLA intends to temporarily ‘close’ the books to the scheme towards the end of 2010. This will provide new applicants with the necessary information to work towards the revised standard requirements within the usual 6-12 month timeframe for applications beginning in early 2010.

4c)        How do I know what has changed and what framework I need to work within?

•         Training, support and guidance will be available from MLA and hosted, along with additional support documents on the Collections Link website from late 2010 to early 2011. Direct support will be available from your regional accreditation adviser and local support team, for contact details see