Graham Kilmer

Public Museum Gains Accreditation

After facing a delay, Museum gains national re-accreditation needed for pursuit for a new building.

By - Aug 1st, 2022 01:21 pm
Milwaukee Public Museum. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee Public Museum. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Milwaukee Public Museum has attained the reaccreditation that museum officials have said was vital to continuing the museum, and also contributed to the push for the new $240 million museum.

The American Alliance of Museums (AAAM) made the decision after tabling the institution’s accreditation in early 2021. The reaccreditation was put on hold because the current museum building at 800 W. Wells St. was in such poor shape it was endangering the museum’s collections.

In accreditation, the organization confers acknowledgement, or certification that the museum meets specific standards in its operations and maintenance of collections. The museum was last accredited in 2007, and a press release from the non-profit that operates the museum, MPM Inc., stated, “Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, governments, funders, outside agencies, and the museum-going public.”

Without accreditation, the museum would lose access to traveling exhibits and lose standing in the donor community, eventually leading to the shuttering of the museum, MPM Inc. officials have said.

By June 2021, Gov. Tony Evers had included $40 million in the state-biennial budget for a new museum, which will likely be called the Wisconsin Museum of Nature and Culture. In March 2022, after hammering out an agreement with Milwaukee County, MPM Inc. went to the county board asking for $45 million, which the board agreed to.

With this funding in hand, along with $15 million in private donations secured during the “quiet phase” of donor solicitation, MPM Inc. publicly launched its capital campaign in July, which will seek to bring in $130 million in donations for the new building.

“For MPM, accreditation is essential to securing the future of this beloved institution and maintaining our status and collections as we look to the future,” said Dr. Ellen Censky, MPM Inc. president and CEO. “Achieving this milestone along with the launch of our $240 million Wisconsin Wonders fundraising campaign and the unveiling of our new Museum renderings will continue our momentum toward a Museum that future generations can enjoy. We look forward to building on the $110 million in financial support we have already received from the State of Wisconsin, Milwaukee County and generous private donors.”

[inarticle ad=”UM-In-Article-2″]The MPM Inc. statement said AAAM accreditation is the primary vehicle for “quality assurance, self-regulation and public accountability.”  The public museum is one of only 21 accredited museums in Wisconsin, according to MPM Inc. “Accredited museums are a community of institutions that have chosen to hold themselves publicly accountable to excellence,” said Laura L. Lott, AAAM president and CEO.

“This is another important milestone in the journey toward the new Museum and a point of celebration for the County,” said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley.

The new museum is planned for the corner of N. 6th St. and W. McKinley Ave. It will be five stories and 200,000 square feet. The architects behind the new building’s design say they were inspired by the natural features of Wisconsin’s Mill Bluff State Park.

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