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Shell Museum receives recognition

By Staff | Apr 8, 2010

On Thursday, the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum announced that it has achieved accreditation from the American Association of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition for a museum.

Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, to governments, funders, outside agencies and to the museum-going public.

“The accreditation process and affirmative result demonstrate the commitment of a relatively young institution to professionalism and the highest standards in the museum field,” said Dr. Jose H, Leal, Director/Curator for The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum.

“Preparation was labor-intensive for the staff and board. However, their dedication to the process over the last three years has positioned the Museum well to compete for shrinking corporate, individual, and grant funding. But, most of all, the self-evaluation and protocol development that led to this stamp of approval helped us to become a much better institution.”

Of the nation’s estimated 17,500 museums, only 775 are currently accredited. The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum is one of only 48 museums accredited in Florida.

“Accreditation assures the people of Lee County that their museum is among the finest in the nation,” said Ford W. Bell, president of AAM. “As a result, the citizens can take considerable pride in their homegrown institution, for its commitment to excellence and for the value it brings to the community.”

Accreditation is a rigorous 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, review and evaluate the self-study and visiting committee report to determine whether a museum should receive accreditation. While the time to complete the process varies by museum, it generally takes three years.

Established in 1995, The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum is the most comprehensive museum in the Western Hemisphere dedicated solely to shells with more than 30 exhibits devoted to shells in art and history, shell habitats, rare specimens, fossil shells and common Southwest Florida shells.

A children’s learning lab features a hands-on play area and a “live tank” with indigenous mollusks.

Check out the Museum Web site (www.shellmuseum.org) for a complete listing of weekly demonstrations and workshops, craft classes, beach walks, group tours, children’s camps and special events.

The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is located at 3075 Sanibel-Captiva Road. For additional information, call 395-2233.