August 2016


MOUNT VERNON, Illinois – Cedarhurst Center for the Arts has achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition afforded the nation’s museums. Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, to governments, funders, outside agencies, and to the museum-going public. The United States has an estimated 35,000 museums, and only a little over 1000 are currently accredited.

Alliance Accreditation brings national recognition to Cedarhurst for its commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards and continued institutional improvement. Developed and sustained by museum professionals for 45 years, the Alliance’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 public.

“The AAM Museum accreditation program is a rigorous but rewarding process, and we are proud and honored to receive accreditation status,” said Sharon Bradham, Cedarhurst Executive Director. “In working toward this goal we underwent a year long internal self-study, then a site study by a team of peer reviewers. The Cedarhurst staff, Trustees, and Counselors worked together through the process and we were honored to have peer reviewers Linda Steigleder, President and CEO of Hancock Shaker Village (Pittsfiled, MA) and Brian Whisenhunt, Executive Director of Museum of the Southwest (Midland, TX) visit earlier this year to experience firsthand the variety of programs that helps Cedarhurst serve our diverse region.

“Accredited museums are a community of institutions that have chosen to hold themselves publicly accountable to excellence,” said Laura L. Lott, Alliance president and CEO. “Accreditation is clearly a significant achievement, of which both the institutions and the communities they serve can be extremely proud.”

An award announcement ceremony was held Tuesday, August 2 at Cedarhurst attended by Cedarhurst staff, board of trustees, Cedarhurst Administrative Counselors, volunteers, community supporters, and local and regional dignitaries.

Speaking at the event, Board of Trustee chairperson Karen Bayer noted “Cedarhurst brings great cultural experiences for many generations.”  Mt. Vernon Mayor Mary Jane Chesley stated, “It takes people and hard work to build a museum of this quality. You have brought a very high honor to the City of Mt. Vernon.”

AAM Award PresentationSpeakers at the August 2nd Award Announcement were (left to right) Illinois State Representative Terri Bryant, Mt. Vernon Mayor Mary Jane Chesley, Illinois State Museum Director Emeritus Bonnie Styles, Cedarhurst Executive Director Sharon Bradham, Cedarhurst Board of Trustees chairperson Karen Bayer, and Cedarhurst Director of Visual Arts Rusty Freeman.

“Accreditation is a big deal!” according to Bonnie Styles, Director Emeritus of the Illinois State Museum. Styles, who was on hand to make the award presentation, served on the AAM Accreditation Commission for nine years, and as the chair for three years. “Cedarhurst joins the 3% of museums that have sought and received accreditation,” she said. “This achievement captures the professionalism of this institution.”

Cedarhurst Center for the Arts, an activity of the John R. and Eleanor R. Mitchell Foundation, is a private, not-for-profit arts organization established in 1973. The museum is best known for its significant collection of late 19th and early 20th century American paintings, exhibitions featuring regional and international artists, a 90 acre sculpture park featuring over 60 works of art, extensive art education opportunities both on campus and in regional schools, and an annual Art & Craft Fair held each September since 1977. The Cedarhurst campus is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday 1 to 5 pm. Find more information about art exhibits and programs at Cedarhurst at www.cedarhurst.org.

About the American Alliance of Museums
The American Alliance 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. Representing more than 30,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance is the only organization representing the entire scope of the broad museum community. For more information, visit www.aam-us.org.