|By G. Michael Dobbs
Springfield Museums President Holly Smith-Bové (at lectern) spoke about what the accreditation means to the museums and the city at this week's announcement.
Reminder Publications photo by G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD The Springfield Museums joined an elite group when on May 14 Museums President Holly Smith-Bové announced the organization has been accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition for a museum or museum consortium.
There are approximately 17,500 museums in America she said and only 6 percent of them have been accredited.
"We're in a rare population," she said. Among the other accredited museums are the Smithsonian Institute and the American Museum of Natural History.
One of the advantages of the designation, Smith-Bové explained is it will be easier for the museum to borrow and lend items from its collections.
"This is a very big win for the city as well," she noted.
The Springfield Museums attract 250,000 visitors a year and according to the New England Foundation for the Arts, has a $28 million economic impact on the region, Smith-Bové said.
"Culture is an economic driver. These museums are an economic driver," she added.
"Accreditation assures the people of Springfield that their museum consortium is among the finest in the nation," Ford Bell, president of the AAM, said. "As a result, your community can take considerable pride in the Springfield Museums for its commitment to excellence and for the value it brings to the region."
The accreditation process took two years to complete and the AAM's Accreditation Commission applauded in the Springfield Museums in its report for its "commitment to education, the dedication of its staff, and the supportive engagement of its board."
Congressman Richard Neal, describing some of the history of the museum at the Quadrangle and the support members of the community have shown for more than a century, called the museums "a treasure."
The D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts where the announcement took place was busy with a large group of school children from Hartford Conn. just prior to the announcement. Mayor Domenic Sarno said he had just spoke with one of the students who told him the field trip to the museums was "the best day of my life."
Sarno recalled growing up in the city that when he was in elementary school the annual field trip to the Quadrangle was also a favorite.
He said the accreditation "puts our museum system on the map . that says a tremendous amount about the people of Springfield."
The Springfield Museums are located on the Quadrangle at 21 Edwards St. Free, secure onsite parking is available. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, go to www.springfieldmuseums.org.
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