The Alliance compiles information on the activities of the Accreditation Program, including an analysis of accreditation decisions and a breakdown of accredited museums by museum type, budget, governance type, staff size and region.

Demographic Information

The statistics below are based on 802 self-reporting accredited museums1 as of January 2016. Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number.

Museum Type

Primary Museum Type 
% of Accredited Museums
Art Museum/Center
History Museum
General (Multi-disciplinary)
Historic House/Site
Natural History/Anthropology Museum
Specialized Museum (e.g., railroad, music, aviation)  4%
Science /Technology Museum/Center (includes Planetariums)  3%
Arboretum/ Botanical Garden  3%
Children's/Youth Museum
Less than 1%
Zoological Park  Less than 1%
Nature Center Less than 1%
Less than 1%


Annual Budget  % of Accredited Museums
$350,000 and under   8%
$350,000–$499,999   6%
$500,000–$999,999  18% 
$1,000,000–$2.9M  30% 
$3M–$4.9M  12% 
$5M–$14.9M  17% 
$15M and over  10%

Governance Type

Governance Type
% of Accredited Museums
Private Non-Profit 63% 
College/University 16% 
State 7% 
Municipal 6% 
Federal 4% 
County/Regional 2% 
Other (e.g., joint governance, trust, school district) 2% 
Less than 1%

Staff Size2

Number of Full-Time Staff
 % of Accredited Museums
1–5  15% 
6–15  28% 
16–30  21%
51–70  5% 
71–100  8% 
101–150  5% 
151–200  1% 
More than 200


Geographical Region (by Museum Association)
% of Accredited Museums
Southeastern (SEMC)  24%
Midwest (AMM) 18%
Mid-Atlantic (MAAM)  18% 
Western (WMA)  15% 
Mountain-Plains (MPMA)  14%
New England (NEMA)  11%

Accreditation Commission Decisions

Decisions Summary (2015)

Institutions Reviewed
15 17 20 52
Accreditation Awarded 8 11 13 32
2 2 5 9
Denied 0
Other 5 4 2 11

Institutions Reviewed: Includes all institutions on a given Commission meeting agenda. The number includes museums being reviewed by the Commission for the first time after a site visit and those submitting progress or final reports related to an earlier tabling decision. 

Accreditation Awarded: Institutions can be granted accreditation for the full 10 years or the museum can be flagged for an early review at 5 years.

Tabled: The Accreditation Commission “tables” its decision on a museum’s accreditation status when it identifies one or more specific concerns that are barriers to the institution’s ability to meet the Characteristics of Excellence, Accreditation standards, program requirements and/or eligibility, but which it anticipates can be addressed within one year or less.

Denied: Institutions are denied for failure to meet multiple Characteristics of Excellence and for major systemic problems. A denial decision can also be made when a tabled museum is unable to demonstrate adequate progress in addressing the Commission's concerns.

Deferral: The Commission may defer making one of the above decisions when it needs more information, clarification or expertise.

: Institutions that did not receive a final decision during the meeting (i.e., were not awarded accreditation, tabled, or denied). These include museums only presenting progress reports as part of a tabling action.

About Success Rates
The Accreditation Program has an overall success rate of 97%. About 2% are denied outright and 1% are unsuccessful after being tabled. The success rate is high in part because there are many steps built into the review process for the museum to receive feedback and counsel from the Accreditation Program staff, Commission and site reviewers; the museum then has an opportunity to respond or take some type of action. Museums also receive counseling and support from the program staff before and during the process to ensure readiness. Most museums come into the process well prepared.

All accredited museums must go through reaccreditation every 10 years. 

Tabling Reasons 2009–20133

Reason for Tabling
% Tabled for this reason
Institutional Planning
Collections Stewardship
Financial Stability
Facilities and Risk Management
Code of Ethics

Tabling provides the Commission with an alternative to denial/withdrawal of accredited status so the museum can resolve very specific operational challenges in a focused and timely manner. Tabling is relatively common. Every year, approximately 30% of museums of all sizes and types have their decisions tabled.

Tabling is intended as a positive tool employed by the Commission for the benefit of the museum, rather than a negative decision. A tabling decision provides the impetus to immediately address weaknesses and can provide the leverage to secure resources and support to implement changes. A tabling decision is not punitive and is not an indicator of ultimate success or failure in the review process. Ninety-seven percent of all museums that have had their decisions tabled are awarded accreditation at the end of the tabling period.

1 This number includes several museum systems and museums with multiple sites, each counted as one accredited institution. Counting each museum within an accredited system increases the number to 1,057 museums. All demographic statistics are based on 802 accredited museums.
2 Two museums did not report staff size.
3 Based on 234 tabling reasons (a museum may be tabled for more than one reason). During this period, 90 museums were tabled.