American Association of Museums Accreditation of the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide

CASE STUDY: Facilitation of national and international programs and meetings

The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) Accreditation is a widely recognized seal of approval in the United States that brings national recognition to a museum for its commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards, and continued institutional improvement.

The Botanic Gardens of Adelaide in Australia was accepted into the program as a test case and a possible precursor to future international participants as part of the refinement and streamlining of accreditation planned over the next five years.

As a part of the BGA’s application for accreditation I was contracted in 2008 to formulate their draft Collection Policy so as to provide a comprehensive document to guide the management of all of the ABG’s collections.  The collections included the living collection and the cultural collection of the botanic gardens as well as herbarium collection of the State Herbarium of South Australia.

Following the acceptance of the collections policies, I was contracted to coordinate and facilitate the AAM’s site visit to the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide.  This included an initial BGA staff workshop to review their application and discuss the process.  Key areas addressed by AAM are: Mission; Institutional Code of Ethics; Delegation of Authority; Institutional Planning; Collections Stewardship and Governance as per submitted application.

Time was also spent with key staff, individually or in small groups, in a preparatory manner to go through the areas of the accreditation application that were relevant to the AAM’s interviews and tours. The desired result was to present a unified and cohesive view of the Gardens operations and to demonstrate the operations are working within the existing policy framework.

I also organised the tour itinerary for the AAM team when they came to the botanic garden and continued to co-ordinate it until the tour was finished.  Their appreciation of the smoothness of their visit and the way in which they were able to identify the strengths of the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide was conveyed in their report to the AAM and by the botanic gardens success.

The successful accreditation of the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide is the first international accreditation since 1998