Museum Accreditation Scheme update (August 2023)

Museum Accreditation

The Accreditation Scheme sets out nationally agreed standards, which inspire the confidence of the public and funding and governing bodies.

It helps everyone involved with a museum to do the right things, helping people to access and engage with collections, and protect them for future generations.

The Accreditation Scheme does this by making sure museums manage their collections properly, engage with visitors, and are governed appropriately by encouraging all museums and galleries to meet an agreed standard in:

  • how they’re run
  • how they manage their collections
  • how they engage with their users

The scheme is managed as a UK Partnership between Arts Council England (ACE), the Welsh Government, Museums Galleries Scotland and Northern Ireland Museums Council. It is run for museums and galleries of all sizes and types across the UK.

Guidance and resources

Guidance and resources

Heather Lomas, MDNE Accreditation Adviser, offers bookable one hour Accreditation surgeries to provide advice and support for individual museums. Book a slot directly with Heather by emailing

A range of Museum Accreditation workshops are available, delivered remotely by Museum Development Advisers in the North of England, these are an opportunity to refresh your knowledge, meet colleagues from other museums and share information, information is here.

The Accreditation guidance document is available on the Arts Council website. MDUK has created 4 video resources on the Accreditation Scheme which you can view on their website.

Accreditation Webinar: Getting Started

Accreditation Webinar: Organisational Health

Accreditation Webinar: Managing Collections

Accreditation Webinar: Users and their Experiences

If you are new to Museum Accreditation there’s information on the Arts Council England website here and a webinar which looks at the eligibility criteria, here.

Museum Accreditation returns

Museum Accreditation returns - update August 2023

Arts Council England published an interim schedule for returns covering the period to the end of 2023: The schedule comprised a first batch of returns invitations from December 2022, and a second from July 2023. If your museum was not invited within these first two batches, you don’t need to do anything now. Just wait until the full schedule is released with invitation dates from January 2024, you don’t need to send anything to Arts Council until they ask for it.

To read the latest update about the Accreditation Scheme, along with the latest update for the Frequently Asked Questions, including deadlines to be aware of please follow this link.

Return schedule 2024 and beyond

Return schedule 2024 and beyond

The next batch of invitation will be sent out in January 2024. The schedule confirming which museums will be invited to submit their return in 2024 will be published on the Arts Council England website by Autumn 2023. MDNE will also publish information as soon as it is available.

Arts Council is planning to use a “tranche” model, which means that return invitations and deadlines will be staggered across the year in small groups.

If your museum’s last award was granted seven or more years ago it is likely you will be invited to submit a return in 2024. You can check the date of the last award on the published List of Accredited Museums.

Maintaining Accreditation requirements

Maintaining the requirements of the Accreditation standard between returns

Museum Accreditation is an ongoing process and museums do not need to wait for an invite or return date to begin preparing for their return.

There are lots of areas to focus on between returns to help make sure the museum continues to meet the standard and you are ready when the return is due.

Museums which hold a Full Accreditation award are expected to continue to meet the requirements of the Standard for the duration of their award period. Sometimes that means that a policy or plan will need to be updated between returns, now is a good time to review and ensure your museum is up to date.

To help museums plan and start to prepare for their Accreditation Return, Arts Council has provided some suggested actions below.

Review the standard and guidance. Check that your museum is continuing to meet all elements of the standard and that you have access to all the documents you will need. The standard was refreshed in 2018, and it’s likely your last return would have been before then, so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re familiar with the 2018 standard and requirements.

Check any Areas for Improvement listed in your last award offer letter and think about what progress you have made against them, and if there’s any work you can do in the meantime to complete them. If you haven’t completed them, you will need to tell us about any progress you have made towards addressing them and the expected completion date when you submit your return.

Check the review dates on your key policies and plans needed to meet Accreditation Standard. As part of your return, you will need to provide a current, approved version of polices and plans. Your Collections Development Policy should be in line with the 2014 template available on our website (see the Accreditation guidance for more information).

Consider preparing an access plan if you don’t already have one. This was introduced as a requirement in the 2018 version of the standard and so may not have been a requirement last time you submitted a return. Please see pages 60 – 65 of the Accreditation guidance for more information.

Review your governing document to ensure it meets Accreditation criteria. The 2018 Accreditation Standard places greater emphasis on museums having an appropriately constituted governing body. For full details of the governing document criteria please see the Quick Reference guide to Museum Constitutional Requirements and the Museum Constitutional & Governance Arrangements Supporting Guidance. You will need to submit your return on the Grantium application portal. If your organisation is not already set up on Grantium, you will need to set up a personal user account and then an organisation applicant profile. You may find it helpful to read our Getting Started on Grantium guidance tailored to the Accreditation scheme.

There is additional advice and guidance from Arts Council for museums preparing a return here.