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Pacific Asia Museum is accredited by American Assn. of Museums, joining 15 others in L.A. County

December 22, 2009 |  6:59 am

Pacificasia1LAT The Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena has announced that it’s been accredited by the American Assn. of Museums — which means it completed an application process, including a site visit from evaluators, and was found to meet standards set by the Washington, D.C.-based association that advocates for museums and sets voluntary guidelines for governance and best practices.

With the November decision, the Pacific Asia Museum became one of 778 museums, public gardens and zoos accredited by the AAM — from an estimated 17,500 nationwide.

According to the AAM’s website, 96% of the museums that apply for accreditation are confirmed. But the AAM says that the success rate is high because the process isn’t designed to slam the door on applicants; instead it provides “many steps” in which museums get “feedback and counsel” on where they need to improve to be accredited.

PacificAsiaGaryFriedman The AAM describes its credential as “a widely recognized seal of approval” that “serves as the field’s primary vehicle for quality assurance and self-regulation” and can bring “increased credibility” with prospective donors.

The Pacific Asia Museum, devoted to the art and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands, was founded in 1971 and has built a collection of more than 15,000 objects dating to ancient times. It spent $1.75 million on its operations in 2007. It becomes the 16th institution in Los Angeles County accredited by the AAM.

The list includes many of the major institutions, such as the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the California Science Center and the Los Angeles Zoo.

But some prominent, highly reputed area museums aren’t on the AAM’s list of accredited institutions, among them the Hammer Museum and the Pacific Asia Museum’s neighbors in Pasadena and San Marino, the Norton Simon Museum of Art and the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.

The directors of the Hammer and Huntington both belong to the Assn. of Art Museum Directors, another national organization that sets professional standards. The Norton Simon, widely considered to possess the most masterpieces per square foot of gallery space of any West Coast art museum, evidently doesn’t think it needs certification beyond what’s hanging on its walls.

However, Carol Togneri, the Norton Simon's chief curator, said she and many of her colleagues at the museum are members of the Assn. of Art Museum Curators, yet another national organization devoted to upholding museums' standards.

-- Mike Boehm

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Photos: Pacific Asia Museum exterior; Pacific Asia Museum gallery. Credits: Los Angeles Times; Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times.

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