MVHS Adds Tyler History Center to Accreditation List

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – For 40 years the Mahoning Valley Historical Society has received accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums for its Arms Family Museum on Wick Avenue.

In October of 2017, the historical society was able to add a new accredited museum to its list: the Tyler History Center downtown.

The accreditation is the highest national recognition afforded to the nation’s museums and signifies a level of excellence to the museum community, governments, funders, outside agencies, and to the public. The society also renewed the accreditation of the Arms Museum.

“We have this magnificent exhibit we opened and they acknowledged that and complimented us on the work we’ve done over the last decade to create the Tyler History Center,” historical society Executive Director Bill Lawson said.

The Tyler History Center held a soft opening in November 2014 and opened its “People of the Mahoning Valley” exhibit in November 2017.

“It benefits to know we definitely have something special here,”  said George Beelen, president of the society’s board. “The community should be proud and we certainly are.”

All museums must undergo a review every 10 years to keep their accreditation status and the process this time took almost two years, Lawson said.

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. American Alliance of Museums Accreditation Commission, an independent and autonomous body of museum professionals, considers the self-study and looks over its team’s report to determine whether a museum should receive accreditation.

“Our organization first received accreditation for the Arms Family Museum in 1977,” Lawson said. “That took dedication from our staff and board from that time forward to continue with professional improvements, upgrades to our facilities, expanding and improving our programs, and securing our financial base.”

Of the country’s 33,000 museums, roughly 1,070 are accredited. The Mahoning Valley Historical Society is one of 149 museums accredited in Ohio.

With the accreditation comes a lot of reflection within the organization and room for improvements to keep the accreditation year-after-year.

“We really need to make sure that we have the best environments and adequate space not only for the current collections but for whatever we’re going to collect in the future,” Lawson said. “That means identifying our strengths and weaknesses and working continuously to make a better organization, and a better resource for our community.”

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