The Block Receives Highest National Recognition: Awarded Re-Accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums

The Northwestern University Mary and Leigh Block Museum has again achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums, the highest national recognition afforded the nation’s museums. Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, governments, funders, outside agencies, and to the museum-going public. The Block Museum was initially accredited in 2008. All museums must undergo a reaccreditation review every 10 years to maintain accredited status.

Alliance Accreditation brings national recognition to a museum for its commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards, and continued institutional improvement. Developed and sustained by museum professionals for 50 years, the Alliance’s museum accreditation program is the field’s primary vehicle for quality assurance, self-regulation, and public accountability. It strengthens the museum profession by promoting practices that enable leaders to make informed decisions, allocate resources wisely, and remain financially and ethically accountable in order to provide the best possible service to the public.

“We are grateful to the AAM, particularly as The Block learned a great deal about itself during this process,” said Lisa Corrin, The Block’s Ellen Philips Katz Executive Director.

“We were especially gratified that our museum colleagues understood what made us distinctive – questioning, experimentation, and collaboration across fields of study.  The Block endeavors to challenge expectations of what an academic art museum can be and the accreditation process allowed us the opportunity to articulate that work”

“The entirety of the staff contributed to this accreditation, in a year-long process that was led by Dan Silverstein, Associate Director of Collections and Exhibition Management.  We also deeply appreciate the support of Northwestern’s senior administration, who eloquently and passionately expressed their support for The Block as an academic resource.  Our University fully understands that a Northwestern education, in any discipline, is fueled by encounters with creative arts.”

Of the nation’s estimated 33,000 museums, over 1080 are currently accredited. The Block Museum is one of only 31 museums accredited in Illinois.

Accreditation is a very rigorous but highly rewarding process that examines all aspects of a museum’s operations. To earn accreditation a museum first must conduct a year of self-study, and then undergo a site visit by a team of peer reviewers. AAM’s Accreditation Commission, an independent and autonomous body of museum professionals, considers the self-study and visiting committee report to determine whether a museum should receive accreditation.

“The Block Museum is an exceptional institution, wholly integrated into the intellectual life of Northwestern University. It is a model for academic art museums, excelling in exhibition scholarship and student service, while building tremendous outreach partnerships in the external community,” notes Marise McDermott, Chair of the AAM Accreditation Commission.

The Block is proud to bear a mark of excellence from The American Alliance of Museums, a mark that signifies in part its dedication to providing transformative encounters with art. The 2022-23 Academic year included many such encounters including the joint Artist-at-Large Program with the McCormick School of Engineering, the presentation of the nationally recognized exhibition Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s – 1980s  anda weeklong residency by the world-renowned filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul, among many others.

The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community. For more information, visit

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