Johnson-Humrickhouse museum receives highest national recognition

COSHOCTON -- The Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum in Coshocton recently achieved re-accreditation by the American Association of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition afforded U.S. museums. Accreditation brings national recognition to a museum for its commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards and continued institutional improvement. The Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum was initially accredited in 1973. All museums must undergo a reaccreditation review at least every 10 years to maintain accredited status.

Of the nation's estimated 17,500 museums, 775 are currently accredited. AAM Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, governments, funders, outside agencies and the museum-going public. Developed and sustained by museum professionals for 35 years, AAM 's museum accreditation program is the field's primary vehicle for quality assurance 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 Ñü all in order to provide the best possible service to the public.

The Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum, located in historic Roscoe Village, was formed through a bequest from John and David Johnson to their home town of Coshocton in the 1920s. It has three permanent exhibit galleries -- American Indian, Historical Ohio and Asian. The Golden and Montgomery Galleries display temporary exhibits of varied content, from fine art and craft to local history and world cultures. A number of the museum's collections are of national significance, including its American Indian basketry and beadwork and Chinese lacquer ware, carvings and ceramics. JHM is also known for its Ohio prehistoric Indian points and tools and the Newark Holy Stones, controversial artifacts inscribed in Hebrew yet uncovered in prehistoric Indian Mounds in the 1860s

This is the second time Director Patti Malenke has worked through the process. "It consumes your life for a year as you analyze and fine-tune every policy and procedure in light of the current standards of best practice. Staff, board members and volunteers all participate in the process, resulting in a better understanding of the museum's mission as well as its strengths and challenges." Malenke added that although the self-study process is laborious, the results are worth it. "As a result the staff can feel confident that we are right in step with the best museums in our country. Whether caring for the artifacts, creating interpretive materials, managing resources or relating to our community, we are performing as well as we can within our context." Malenke noted that another benefit of achieving accreditation is that it communicates to other museums and nonprofits that you know what you're doing and can be trusted. The Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum is one of only 24 museums accredited in Ohio.

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, and then undergo a site visit by a team of peer reviewers. AAM's Accreditation Commission, an independent and autonomous body of museum professionals, considers 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.

"Accreditation is emblematic of an institution's commitment to public service and to overall excellence," said Ford W. Bell, AAM president. "Attaining accreditation involves taking a hard look at yourself, allowing your peers in the field to do the same, and being judged to be superior in all areas. The people of Coshocton can take great pride in the fact that their local institution is one of America's premier museums."

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 ensuring 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 information, visit www.aam-us.org.

The Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum is located at 300 N. Whitewoman St., Coshocton. For information, call (740) 622-8710 or e-mail jhmuseum@sbcglobal.net. Visit their Web site at www.jhmuseum.org.