The Loyola University Museum of Art is now accredited for demonstrating high standards of excellence established by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). The accreditation, which was finalized in November, will begin to show its merit as LUMA hopes to welcome art of higher distinction in upcoming months.
This accreditation places LUMA in the same distinguished category as the Art Institute of Chicago, Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art and the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art. Only 1,005 out of approximately 17,500 museums in the nation are accredited, making the recognition an elite honor.
Accreditation is achieved through collection and analysis of paperwork by members of the AAM. The Accreditation Commission takes into consideration each museum’s maintenance procedures, staff training procedures and policies on professional ethics, among other practices. LUMA submitted more than 40 documents to the evaluation committee, a process that took several years to complete, according to museum director Pamela Ambrose. The documents — including a mission statement, code of ethics and employee handbooks — were each submitted individually.
Jonathan Canning, LUMA’s curator of art, said the accreditation will enhance the cultural experience available to Loyola students by giving the museum opportunities to display more notable artwork.
“This puts little LUMA in the top 6 percent of museums in the United States, a very exclusive group,” Canning said. “We should be able to get significant loans now from the big museums. That means we get better exhibitions. It should mean that the Art Institute will be comfortable in lending us objects,” Canning said.
“Most people don’t know that there’s an accreditation process for museums. They’ll notice it because they’ll see art of higher caliber here. I think they’ll sort of absorb the change without understanding that it’s due to the accreditation process,” Canning said.
In addition to a considerable amount of paperwork, the accreditation process included two days in which visiting inspectors from the AAM evaluated museum staff on their knowledge and presentation. The board allotted LUMA a few months in which to address certain issues raised by those evaluators.
One issue raised in LUMA’s application process was uncertainty about its maintenance of the Cuneo Mansion and Gardens in Vernon Hills, but the museum clarified in a progress report that the Mansion’s cleaning and basic training are overseen by a historic manager at the location. The Cuneo Mansion and Gardens is a 100-acre historic site located in Vernon Hills, Ill, that was once home to General Electric founder Samuel Insull. The mansion is now maintained to preserve the fine art and furnishings of John Cuneo, Sr. After LUMA reviewed the committee’s proposals, an additional few months were allotted for the museum to finalize the overall submission for accreditation.
During the process, LUMA Director Pamela Ambrose was responsible for organizing policies on professional ethics and explaining LUMA’s role in arts and cultural events beyond the museum.
LUMA’s distinctive achievement means that now is the time for students to visit the museum, located on the Water Tower Campus. The museum is free for students, faculty and clergy.
“I would urge students to take advantage — this is a wonderful resource. We have a rare collection of medieval, Renaissance, Baroque art. It’s important; not all universities have something like this,” Ambrose said.
She said the accreditation, which allowed the museum staff and LUMA board of advisors to make in-depth self-evaluations about the way museum affairs are being handled, will foster positive changes for the musuem.
“Other museums around the world are more likely to loan us important works of art now that we are accredited,” Ambrose said. “In [earning] accreditation, it really sharpens your toolkit.”
The process of applying for accreditation must periodically be repeated to ensure that museums uphold their high standards; in order to maintain its accredited status, LUMA must reapply every 10 years.
LUMA is open on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Wednesdays to Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.