The U.S. Navy Seabee Museum (USNSM) has achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition afforded the nation’s museums. Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, to governments, funders, outside agencies, and to the museum-going public.
WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
Located in Port Hueneme, California, the USNSM is one of 10 Navy museums operated by the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) open to the public across the country. The museum is dedicated to documenting and ensuring the construction and engineering accomplishments of the Seabees and the Civil Engineer Corps remain relevant and educating as many people as possible.
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.
“Earning Alliance Accreditation has shaped the USNSM’s strategic vision for the past 15 years. In preparation for the accreditation review the USNSM staff has worked mindfully to bring all aspects of museum operations up to the highest professional industry standards and best practices,” said Dr. Lara Godbille, Director of the USNSM. “The museum staff is so proud of accomplishing this for the Seabee community and knowing their history and heritage is being preserved and shared expertly.”
Of the nation’s estimated 33,000 museums, only 1,080 are currently accredited. The USNSM is one of only 77 museums accredited in California. USNSM is the sixth of NHHC's 10 museums to earn Alliance Accreditation.
“In layman’s terms, especially given NHHC’s limited resourcing, this 60% benchmark shows that we operate at the “Smithsonian” level of excellence in the stewardship of the collections in our care, and the return on investment we provide to the Fleet and American People through all of our educational outreach and programming,” said Naval History and Heritage Command's Deputy Assistant Director, Navy Museums Division Jeff Barta.
Accreditation is a rigorous but 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. The Alliance’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.
“This multi-year accreditation process ensures that we run our museums to the highest professional industry standards and best practices,” said Barta. “Nationwide, only around 3% of the nation’s museums meet the highly rigorous standards to be accredited. Dr. Godbille and her team built USNSM from the ground up with accreditation as the ultimate goal and we’re very proud of the immense work and talent that went into the effort.”
In addition to traditional museum operations, USNSM houses the Seabee Archive which includes records related to both expeditionary Seabee construction and the development of the naval shore establishment by the Civil Engineer Corps. The Seabees Archives is used by a variety of researchers, including veterans and their families, scholars, and government agencies. The records held at USNSM are frequently used by Allied nations to assist with joint regional base construction, environmental restoration, and locating fallen forces.
The United States Navy Seabee Museum was established in 1947 and is the second oldest Navy museum in the NHHC system. The USNSM is located outside the Knott Gate on Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme; base access is not required. For more information about the museum including visitor information, upcoming education programs and Seabee Archive online reading room, visit www.history.navy.mil/seabeemuseum.
NHHC, located at the Washington Navy Yard, is responsible for preserving, analyzing, and disseminating U.S. naval history and heritage. It provides the knowledge foundation for the Navy by maintaining historically relevant resources and products that reflect the Navy's unique and enduring contributions through our nation's history and supports the fleet by assisting with and delivering professional research, analysis, and interpretive services. NHHC comprises many activities, including the Navy Department Library, the Navy Operational Archives, the Navy art and artifact collections, underwater archeology, Navy histories, 10 museums, the USS Constitution repair facility, and the historic ship Nautilus.
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