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Museum of Northern Arizona restored AAM accreditation

Dear fellow paleontologists,

The Museum of Northern Arizona recently issued the announcement below
regarding its American Association of Museums accreditation. Besides
the problems arising from the sale of collections (none from natural
history collections) that led to our loss of accreditation, the
administration closed the Geology Department in 2003. The new
administration that took over in early 2004 restored the Geology
Department and renewed its commitment to all of the museum's
collections. We are pleased to report to the professional community
that paleontological research and collections at MNA are secure and
will continue in perpetuity.

David D. Gillette,
Colbert Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology

On behalf of the Geology Department and Collections Management Department:

Janet Whitmore Gillette, Associate Collections Manager for Natural History
Michael O. Woodburne, Honorary Curator
William Breed, Emeritus Curator
Ralph Molnar, Research Associate
William Parker, Research Associate
Ivo Lucchitta, Research Associate

AAM Restores MNA's Accreditation
On August 8, the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff received word
from the American Association of Museums (AAM) that its accreditation
by the AAM had been restored. AAM accreditation is the highest
national recognition for a museum, signifying excellence to the museum
community, to governments, funders, outside agencies, and to the
museum-going public.

In its letter to MNA, the AAM Accreditation Commission stated, MNA
"has done a considerable and commendable amount of work to re-earn
accreditation. You are setting a standard for transparency in
operations. We applaud the extensive work you have done in the area of
collections stewardship and your new fiscal philosophies to build long
term sustainability. While the museum still has work ahead of it, you
identified and faced your problems, and are living within your means
and moving ahead prudently".

AAM Accreditation brings national recognition to a museum for its
commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards,
and continued institutional improvement. Developed and sustained by
museum professionals for 35 years, AAM's museum accreditation program
is the field's primary vehicle for quality assurance, self-regulation,
and public accountability. It strengthens the museum profession by
promoting practices that enable leaders to make informed decisions,
allocate resources wisely, and remain, financially and ethically
accountable in order to provide the best possible service to the

On December 3, 2003, MNA's accreditation was withdrawn by AAM's
Accreditation Commission in response to the sale of 21 pieces from its
collections by MNA's former administration and board of trustees. The
funds were used to finance an operating deficit, violating the
Museum's own collection policies. Under new leadership and wanting to
regain accreditation as soon as possible, in December 2004 (one year
later), MNA sent its accreditation application to the AAM and was
accepted into the accreditation program in February 2005. MNA
completed and submitted its self-study ahead of schedule in August
2006 and received interim accreditation on March 26, 2007. On August
8, 2008 MNA officially received word from AAM that it had been granted
full accreditation by the commission.

MNA Director Robert Breunig stated, "All of us at MNA are extremely
happy and proud about the restoration of our accreditation by the
American Association of Museums. Our staff and board worked very hard
over the past few years to complete the accreditation process and to
restore our good name."

"The 2003 loss of accreditation was a significant event in the life of
this museum," continued Breunig, "However, we used the accreditation
self-study process as a framework for a complete and thorough
institutional evaluation. By returning MNA to the community of
accredited institutions, we hope we have regained the public's trust
in the professionalism and high standards governing the operation of
this museum."

"Since its founding in 1928, the Museum of Northern Arizona has
exemplified leadership," Breunig continues. "It was the first private
museum in Arizona and one of the earliest in the West. It had early
and significant programs in regional research, art education, and
collections. Over its 80-year history, MNA has developed a major
regional collection, advanced research about the Colorado Plateau,
sponsored innovative educational programs, and presented award-winning
exhibitions, festivals, and publications."

MNA was one of the first institutions in Arizona to be awarded AAM
accreditation, receiving this status in 1973, just two years after the
establishment of the accreditation program. Since then, it has
received two subsequent reaccreditations before its recent

Accreditation is a very rigorous, but highly rewarding process that
examines all aspects of a museum's operations. To earn accreditation,
a museum first must conduct a year of self-study, then undergo a site
visit by a team of peer reviewers. AAM's Accreditation Commission, an
independent and autonomous body of museum professionals, consider the
self-study and visiting committee report to determine whether a museum
should receive accreditation. While the time to complete the process
varies by museum, it generally takes as much as three years.

Of the nation's nearly 17,500 museums, about 775 are currently
accredited. The Museum of Northern Arizona is one of only eleven
museums accredited in Arizona.

The Museum of Northern Arizona is one of the most important regional
museums in the U.S. It was a pioneer of research on the Colorado
Plateau. Today MNA's comprehensive collection of natural and cultural
history constitutes a unique historical record representing scientific
exploration, research, and aesthetic appreciation over the past
century. The MNA collections tell a compelling story about the natural
environment and the people of this region throughout time.

MNA holds over 600,000 artifacts in its permanent collections of
anthropology, geology and paleontology, biology, and fine art from
Native and non-Native artists dating from the 1860s. It also houses
extensive federal and tribal research collections, and a significant
library and photo archive collection. Construction has begun on MNA's
new Easton Collection Center, a sustainable green building with
state-of-the-art storage facilities. This new center aims to be a
place that is sensitive to cultural needs, is aesthetically pleasing,
and provides enhanced access for visitors and researchers.

The Museum is located at the base of the San Francisco Peaks, three
miles north of historic downtown Flagstaff on Highway 180. It is open
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's

The American Association of Museums has been bringing museums together
since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering
and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to
the entire museum community. With more than 15,000 individual, 3,000
institutional, and 300 corporate members, AAM is dedicated to enduring
that museums remain a vital part of the American landscape, connecting
people with the greatest achievements of the human experience, past,
present, and future. For more information, visit aam-us.org.