What is Accreditation?

Accreditation is a set of national standards for UK museums. To achieve these standards museums must meet published requirements in how they care for and document their collections, how they are governed and managed, and on the information and services they offer to their users.

Accreditation is open to all museums that meet the 1998 Museum Association definition of a museum:

“Museums enable people to explore collections for inspiration, learning and enjoyment. They are institutions that collect, safeguard and make accessible artefacts and specimens, which they hold in trust for society.”

The Accreditation scheme is administered by Arts Council England, in partnership with Museums Galleries Scotland, Northern Ireland Museums Council and CyMAL.

A revised Standard was launched in October 2011 and opened to new applicants in December 2011. The timetable of when museums will be asked to complete returns forms is available for download here.

Details about workshops supporting museums with Accreditation can be found on the Advice and Support pages.

All of these documents are available to download from the Arts Council England website

  • The 2011 Accreditation Standard
  • Guidance documents for each of the sections
  • Collections Development Policy template (replacing Acquisition and Disposal Policy model template, updated June 2014)

You’ll find more information about the Scheme, and answers to common questions, in this section.

The Accreditation Partners are currently reviewing the characteristics and criteria for nationally-styled museums. These are museums which are not National Museums: they were not established by national legislation and are not significantly funded directly by central or devolved Government however they are marketed with a national name. Examples include the National Football Museum and the Scottish Fisheries Museum. Accreditation characteristics and criteria for such museums are enhanced as a nationally-styled name leads to a public expectation in terms of facilities and scope and scale of the collection.

We will not currently accept new applications for Accreditation from nationally-styled museums which are either brand new applicants to the Scheme or are already within Accreditation but where a name change is proposed making them newly nationally-styled.

The revised characteristics and criteria will be published in Summer 2016. If you have any queries please contact: accreditation@artscouncil.org.uk

The new Museums Galleries Scotland site is launching soon.

View the new site and tell us what you think.