Museum of New Mexico

American Association of Museums Grants State System Highest Accreditation Status

January 23, 2012


The Museum of New Mexico has been re-accredited by the American Association of Museums and granted its highest award. The announcement was made today at the Department of Cultural Affairs’ annual Culture Day in the Capitol Rotunda by Bonnie Styles, chair of AAM’s Accreditation Commission and director of the Illinois State Museum. 

This national accreditation applies to the State Of New Mexico’s Museum system, comprised of 14 state-operated entities under the DCA: the New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors; Museum of International Folk Art; New Mexico Museum of Art; Museum of Indian Arts & Culture; Museum Resources Division; Office of Archaeological Studies; and the Coronado, Ft. Selden, Jemez, Lincoln, El Camino Real, Bosque Redondo Memorial at Fort Sumner, Fort Stanton, and the Taylor-Barela-Reynolds-Mesilla state monuments.

Styles noted that New Mexico state institutions share their prestigious status with renowned organizations such as the Smithsonian and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“The Museum of New Mexico is one of America’s finest, and an institution of which the people and leaders of New Mexico should be justifiably proud,” she said. “The Commission was particularly impressed with the museum system's statewide educational impact through its multiple facilities, the sharing of resources across the museum system, and the resourceful cross training of staff.  The museum also exhibited excellent practices related to public trust and accountability and facilities and risk management.”

Of the 778 accredited museums in the United States, the Museum of New Mexico ranks among the top 4.5 percent of all museums in the nation.                                                                                      

Recognized as the highest standard of excellence of the museum world, AAM accreditation was first achieved by the Museum of New Mexico system in 1976 and has been sustained ever since, even through recent years of economic hardship. Accredited museums can more easily negotiate loans of objects from other museums, particularly internationally; obtain funding from philanthropies and foundations; and win support from local, municipal, and state governments.

The Museum of New Mexico began in 1909 in the Palace of the Governors.  Just over a century later, the Department of Cultural Affairs now oversees one of the most well-respected and formidable museum systems in the country.  New Mexico’s cultural treasures define a $3.3 billion industry, including nearly 60,000 jobs, $246 million in tax revenue, and a $1.35 billion impact on the tourism industry.  Last year alone, 60,000 children visited DCA museums and monuments as part of their school groups; another 650,000 benefitted from DCA-sponsored programs throughout New Mexico. Add in adults, and a total of 1.2 million people visited these museums and monuments and participated in DCA programs.

“Our museums and monuments are an important reminder of our state’s rich and diverse history and they provide wonderful educational opportunities to New Mexicans of all ages. I commend these institutions for their hard earned achievement and their exemplary stewardship of public and private support,” said Governor Susana Martinez.

Veronica Gonzales, Cabinet Secretary of DCA, emphasized that achieving this accreditation was a rigorous process, resulting in the standing of New Mexico DCA alongside the most prestigious museum systems in the nation. 

“We hope this announcement and the celebration of Culture Day generates wider awareness and appreciation for the value of culture, arts, and arts education in New Mexico,” Gonzales said. “Our focus and commitment continue to be on high-quality services and programs, public trust, accountability, stability in operations, and expanding our capacity to creatively respond to opportunities and challenges.”

The annual Culture Day at the Capitol allows museums and DCA programs to set up displays showing the range of their activities – from folk art to archaeology, outer space to agriculture, dinosaurs to historic preservation. Displays this year carried a Centennial theme, including a recreated Statehood parade car that Roundhouse visitors and staff could pose in for souvenir photos.

The noon event included performances by dancer Regina Bell Dawley, singer/songwriter Cathy McGill, and the 3-HC Holy Faith Break Dancers.

Since 1906, the American Association of Museums has been bringing museums together by developing 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 more information, visit


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