Santa Barbara Maritime Museum Nationally Recognized and Accredited by American Alliance of Museums

(Santa Barbara, CA. July 15, 2021)—The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum (SBMM) Board of  Directors is pleased to announce that the Museum has earned national accreditation from the  prestigious American Alliance of Museums (AAM). To reach this important goal, the Museum  spent three years working toward its AAM accreditation by improving its processes and  procedures, organizing collections and other policies, completing an extensive year-long self study report and application, writing a new 5-Year Strategic Plan, and undergoing a novel  “virtual” site visit by a team of museum peer reviewers. Once SBMM had submitted all of its  documents and the visiting committee had completed its report, AAM’s Accreditation  Commission, an independent body of museum professionals, awarded the Museum a full 10- year accreditation at its annual meeting June 17-18. 

According to Evan Richardson, Chair of the AAM Accreditation Commission, “This means the  museum meets National Standards and Best Practices for U.S. Museums and joins a community  of institutions that have chosen to hold themselves publicly accountable to excellence. Through  a rigorous process of self-assessment and review by its peers, the museum has shown itself to  be a good steward of its resources held in the public trust and committed to a philosophy of  continual institutional growth.” Of 33,000 museums in the United States, only 1,069 are  currently accredited.  

Richardson went on to say, “We commend the museum for its educational programming and  project-based learning approach, as well as efforts to widen its audience to reach Title 1 schools  in the county. The Navigators Circle program and the Code of Ethics can serve as interesting  models for other institutions. “ 

What AAM Accreditation means for the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum With this AAM accreditation, SBMM can now join the ranks of some of the most prominent  museums in the United States, such as Colonial Williamsburg, the Statue of Liberty National 

Monument and Ellis Island, and the San Diego Museum of Art, as well as the Santa Barbara  Museum of Natural History and the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens.  

SBMM’s Executive Director Greg Gorga said, “This recognition means that the Museum can  provide more exciting programs and exhibits to the community.” Board of Directors President  Sigrid Toye noted, “This achievement was possible due to the close collaboration within the  museum family – staff and volunteers alike – during the accreditation process.” Immediate Past  President Don Barthelmess added, “Having AAM accreditation takes SBMM to a higher level of  organization and quality of programs and services as an accountable non-profit museum and  provider of maritime education. This recognition also allows SBMM to apply for many grants and  qualify for traveling exhibits from other accredited museums.” 

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About AAM & AAM Accreditation 

The American Alliance of Museums’ mission is to champion museums and nurture  excellence in partnership with our members and allies. From art museums to science centers,  arboretums to zoos, members of the diverse museum community share something in common— strong support, standards of excellence, knowledge sharing, and professional networks provided by  the American Alliance of Museums. 

According to the AAM’s website (, 

“As the ultimate mark of distinction in the museum field, accreditation signifies  excellence and credibility to the entire museum community, to governments and outside  agencies, and to the museum-going public. Developed and sustained by museum  professionals for almost 50 years, the museum accreditation program is the field’s  primary vehicle for quality assurance, self-regulation, and public accountability.  Accreditation helps to ensure the integrity and accessibility of museum collections,  reinforce the educational and public service roles of museums, and promote good  governance practices and ethical behavior.”  

Since 1906 the Alliance has been a leader in developing best practices and advocating for museums,  as well as providing a host of opportunities to museum staff and volunteers. More than 35,000  individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners benefit from  the work of the Alliance. 

About SBMM 

Since 2000, the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum has featured many artifacts and stories to share the  history of the Santa Barbara Channel with more than 40,000 visitors annually, and it provides year-round  experiential maritime history and marine science education for local youth. Featuring the impressive  First-Order Fresnel Lighthouse Lens from Point Conception, SBMM’s current exhibits explore the History  of Oil in Santa Barbara Channel & Chumash Use of Asphaltum, the Honda Disaster, and Wives and  Daughters: Keepers of the Light. 

SBMM is located at the historic Santa Barbara Harbor at 113 Harbor Way, Suite 190, Santa Barbara, CA  93109. Visit or call (805) 962-8404 for details.


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