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Washington County Museum of Fine Arts gets AAM accreditation

May 06, 2002|BY MARLO BARNHART

Jean Woods said the fact that the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts has again been accredited by the American Association of Museums is a credit to the staff, volunteers and the public that has vigorously supported the institution for 71 years.

"It really says something about our museum," said Woods, director for the past 20 years. "We have a fabulous collection for a small museum."

Only three fine arts museums in Maryland are AAM accredited, Woods said. The other two are the Baltimore Museum of Fine Arts and the Walters Art Gallery, also in Baltimore.

"They each have staffs of 100," Woods said. "Here we have six full-time employees, six part-time guards and a remarkable group of volunteers."

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The most recent round of accreditation scrutiny began in 1999, four years later than the usual 10-year span between inspections, Woods said. The delay was caused by the 1995 building campaign at the museum.

When the process began in 1999, Woods wrote an extensive accreditation report with support documents such as the long-range plan, ethics policy, disaster plan, collection policy and pictures.

That report was examined by two AAM evaluators who visited the site in the center of Hagerstown City Park on several occasions.

Those evaluators gave the museum high marks for its impressive list of artists, commending Woods for attracting significant gifts.

Woods said keeping the museum in top form is a full-time commitment.

"It's a lot of work but we have wonderful treasures," she said.

More than 85 percent of the museum's art collection has been donated over the years.

"People have been and continue to be very generous," Woods said.

William Young, president of the museum board of trustees, said achievement of accreditation provides a way to assess how well a museum meets current standards and continues to improve.

Of the accredited institutions in the United States, 60 percent have annual budgets of more than $1 million. Another 18 percent have a budget between $500,000 and $1 million, such as the local museum, Woods said.

"We invite everyone in the area to help us celebrate this award by visiting the museum and enjoying the programs and exhibitions," Woods said.

Admission is free.

For more information on the private, nonprofit museum, its collections and its programs, call 301-739-5727 or visit the Web site at www.washcomuseum.org.

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