Assurance that your Park Authority is serving you.
Colvin Run Mill
Schools are accredited to show they meet a certain level of educational excellence. The same is true of museums, and in 1979 the Fairfax County Park Authority became the first county agency in the nation accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). Today, the news is even better.
AAM has announced that the Park Authority’s Resource Management Division (RMD) and four of its sites have received AAM accreditation. For nearly three years, we’ve been working toward re-accreditation. We completed a self-study and submitted it to the AAM in July 2016. Next was a visit from museum professionals who reviewed documents, interviewed staff and toured sites. The AAM representatives saw FCPA Collections at Walney Visitor Center in Ellanor C. Lawrence Park and at the Frey House, then visited Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria. They toured Sully Historic Site and Frying Pan Farm Park, spent time with the Park Board, and attended a reception attended by park advocates, volunteers and staff members at the county government’s Herrity Building, where the Park Authority’s main offices reside. Their final day was spent at Colvin Run Mill Historic Site and amid the archaeological collections at the James Lee Community Center in Falls Church.
The AAM team filed a report, an AAM commission reviewed it, and accreditation officially was granted August 6, 2018.
Here’s what was accomplished:
- Accreditation for RMD, which oversees Historic Artifact Collections and Archaeological Collections
- Reaccreditation for Sully Historic Site, Colvin Run Mill, and Green Spring Gardens
- First-time accreditation for Frying Pan Farm Park (pictured below)
“It is an honor and a privilege to have been reaccredited by the American Alliance of Museums,” said current Park Services Division Director Cindy Walsh, who headed the Resource Management Division during the reaccreditation process. “This validates our commitment to excellence and dedication to meeting the highest standards for our museums and collections. More importantly, it demonstrates our assurance to county residents that we will continue to preserve and protect Fairfax County’s important heritage.”
Colvin Run, Sully, and the Historic Artifact Collections were first accredited in 1979, and all were reaccredited in 1990 and 2002. Green Spring was included for the first time in 2002.
AAM establishes the standards through which museums are recognized for their commitment to excellence, accountability, and professionalism. The organization says that “as the ultimate mark of distinction in the museum field, accreditation signifies excellence and credibility.” AAM says that the designated Park Authority sites “have demonstrated they meet standards and professional practices, and have shown themselves to be core educational entities that are good stewards of the collections and resources they hold in the public trust.”
Sully Historic Site
The AAM says there are about 33,000 museums in the United States. Of those, 1,070 are currently accredited.
AAM review assures residents that museums meet certain requirements under specific headings — Public Trust and Accountability, Mission and Planning, Leadership and Organizational Structure, Stewardship of the Collections, Education and Interpretation, Facilities and Risk Management, and Financial Stability.
Since the last time the agency was accredited, the Park Authority has implemented new recordkeeping databases for objects and plants, adopted the Professional Code of Ethics for Museum Operations, improved storage conditions with better housekeeping and environmental monitoring, and updated emergency plans and Friend Groups agreements.
The Friends of Green Spring go by the acronym FROGS
AAM’s accreditation confirms that we manage our collections properly, are working to get better at our responsibilities, and are following current museum best practices and professional standards.
That accreditation tells you that we’re doing things the right way.
Author David Ochs is the Stewardship Communications Manager for the Fairfax County Park Authority’s Resource Management Division, and Co-Author Carol Ochs works in the agency’s Public Information Office.