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Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Museums Earn Continuing National Accreditation

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., April 19, 2011 – The Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation museums have earned continuing accreditation from the American Association of Museums (AAM), meeting national standards and best practices for U.S. museums.

“We found the educational programs and collections management practices to be excellent, as are all aspects of museum operations,” AAM Accreditation Commission Chair Bonnie W. Styles said.  “We particularly commend the well-written and strategic institutional plan.”

The Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, a Virginia state agency, operates Jamestown Settlement and the Yorktown Victory Center and conducts outreach education programs in public schools across Virginia. Through gallery exhibits and living history, the two museums tell the story of America’s beginnings, from the 1607 arrival of America’s first permanent English colonists in the midst of Virginia’s Powhatan chiefdom to the emergence of a new nation almost two centuries later with the promise of the American Revolution realized in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.


Of an estimated 17,500 museums nationwide, only 779 are accredited.  The Foundation museums, initially accredited in 1987, are among 36 AAM-accredited institutions in Virginia.

“Accreditation validates our efforts to offer the highest quality museum experience and educational programs,” said Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Chairman H. Benson Dendy III.  “We are pleased and honored by the action of the American Association of Museums.”

“This is additional confirmation for our donors, who provide significant support for artifact acquisitions, exhibits and public programs, of the value of their investment,” said Jamestown-Yorktown, Inc., President Sue H. Gerdelman. 

A lengthy accreditation process included a comprehensive self-study and subsequent review of the museums’ operations by an Accreditation Commission visiting committee, which “observed an institution with a clear sense of mission and service to its audience.”  The committee report noted a “model of hospitality … firmly rooted within the culture of the organization,” inclusion of “issues of race, ethnicity and gender” in programs and exhibits, and a planning and evaluation process that results in positive change.

“It was a pleasure to serve as the visiting committee for the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation accreditation review,” said Barbara Franco, executive director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, and Patrick Clarke, director of President James Buchanan’s Wheatland in Lancaster, Pa.  “Tidewater Virginia has always been a magical place to visit.  The Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation team has created very special ways that bring cultural history to life for a variety of audiences, most notably families.  We extend our hearty congratulations on their well-deserved news of continued accreditation.”

Accreditation of the museums will be formally reviewed again in 2024.