Museum Receives Highest National Recognition

Museum Receives Highest National Recognition

Mahomet Daily

Published Date: March 24, 2023

By: Dani Tietz

Mahomet’s Museum of the Grand Prairie has once again been recognized with accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). The honor, which is afforded to the nation’s top museums has been bestowed on the Champaign County Forest Preserve property for 50 years. 

The Museum first achieved this status in 1972, just four years after opening. Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, governments, funders, outside agencies, and the museum-going public.

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 also 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.

Of the nation’s estimated 33,000 museums, over 1,100 are currently accredited. AAM recognizes 213 museums in Illinois, and 31 of those museums are accredited. The Museum of the Grand Prairie is one of only nine museums outside of the Chicagoland area to receive accreditation.   

“This accreditation acknowledges the excellence of our staff and volunteers, whose tireless efforts ensure that the museum’s exhibits, programs, and collections allow us to preserve and interpret the natural and cultural history of Champaign County and East Central Illinois for all generations,” said Lorrie Pearson, Executive  Director of the Champaign County Forest Preserve District. “We owe a special thanks to former Museum and  Education Department Director Barb Oehlschlaeger-Garvey for her past stewardship of the Museum and for her  dedication to the reaccreditation process.”

Accreditation is a very difficult but very worthwhile process that looks at every part of how a museum works. To earn accreditation, a museum must first 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, considers the self-study and visiting committee report to determine whether a museum should receive accreditation.  

“The Museum of the Grand Prairie is a shining example of a smaller institution that meets professional standards and serves as a model for many other mid-sized museums. Accreditation gives a museum a mark of credibility and displays how a museum achieves excellence,” states Pat Miller, former Executive Director of the Illinois Heritage Association and member of the Museum Advisory Committee. 

The Champaign County Forest Preserve District plans to host an event in late spring or early summer to celebrate this momentous achievement and the public will be invited to attend. For more info on the accreditation and to stay up to date on the celebration event, please visit or