Two local museums receive national recognition for excellence 

Cincinnati Museum Center and Freedom Center achieve reaccreditation by American Alliance of Museums 

CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center has again achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums, the highest national recognition afforded the nation’s museums. CMC first received accreditation in 2012 and the Freedom Center in 2014. 

Of the nation’s estimated 33,000 museums, less than 2,000 – roughly 6% - are currently accredited. Accreditation brings national recognition to a museum for its commitment to excellence, accountability, high professional standards and continued institutional improvement. It is the field’s primary vehicle for quality assurance, self-regulation and public accountability. Accreditation is a rigorous process that examines all aspects of a museum’s operations through a year of self-study and a site visit by a team of peer reviewers. 

“Accredited museums are a community of institutions that have chosen to hold themselves publicly accountable to excellence,” said Laura L. Lott, president and CEO of the American Alliance of Museums. “Accreditation is clearly a significant achievement, of which both the institutions and the communities they serve can be extremely proud.” 

Through the reaccreditation process, peer reviewers remarked on CMC’s exhibits and guest experience and its exemplary collections facilities. CMC was praised for its ongoing efforts to digitize its collections for researchers and educations and the acquisition of significant collections since 2014, including a substantial invertebrate fossil collection from the University of Minnesota and a Cincinnati Jewish history collection. The Cincinnati History Library and Archives was also a standout, noted for being a terrific asset for the public. The 20,000-acre Richard and Lucile Durrell Edge of Appalachia Preserve System, managed by CMC, was also recognized as a model of interpretive practices and for its access and preservation of three National Natural Landmarks. 

Reviewers were also impressed by CMC’s Early Childhood Science Inquiry Teacher Education (ECSITE) program. The program helps early childhood educators become more proficient in inquiry-based science activities for their students, in turn increasing their students’ knowledge and comprehension of critical science concepts. As a community resource, CMC’s Curate My Community initiative that displayed over 700 objects across Greater Cincinnati was recognized as a model that holds great promise for the museum field as an experiment in deep community engagement.  

Throughout the process, reviewers recognized the significance of the 2016-2018 Union Terminal restoration project that fulfilled a significant objective in CMC’s strategic plan and expanded its capabilities as an organization.  

“Being recognized once again as an accredited museum is an honor we share as an organization of skilled, passionately dedicated individuals committed to the excellence of our museum,” said Elizabeth Pierce, president and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “Museums are a vital contributor to a vibrant, connected community and we’re delighted to provide a brilliant space for exploration for curious kids, adults, researchers, educators and more.” 

During their visit, reaccreditation reviewers noted the significant addition of an experienced curator to the Freedom Center’s team, adding to collections care and research capacities for the organization. The Freedom Center’s DEI initiatives were also noted. The Teen Docent program, which offers Greater Cincinnati high school students the opportunity to improve their historical acumen and professional leadership skills in a museum environment, was recognized for creating a bridge of knowledge between the Underground Railroad Era and social justice movements of today. Additionally, the Freedom Center’s online DEI presence and growing implicit bias programs were lauded for their reach into the community, schools, universities, corporations and professional sports teams.  

“Reaccreditation is a testament to the efforts of our team and the drive for excellence we share as an organization to be a community anchor and a keeper of our shared cultural history,” said Woodrow Keown, Jr., president and COO of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “We thank the committee for acknowledging our work and continued growth as an organization.” 

As part of the standard reaccreditation process, both CMC and the Freedom Center will be up for review again in 2032. 


About Cincinnati Museum Center
Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) at Union Terminal is a nationally recognized, award-winning institution housed in a National Historic Landmark. CMC is a vital community resource that sparks curiosity, inspiration, epiphany and dialogue. CMC was awarded the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and received accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums in 2012, one of a select few museums in the nation to receive both honors. Organizations within CMC include the Cincinnati History Museum, Museum of Natural History & Science, Children’s Museum, Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX® Theater, Cincinnati History Library and Archives and the Geier Collections and Research Center. Housed in historic Union Terminal – a National Historic Landmark restored in 2018 and recognized as the nation’s 45th most important building by the American Institute of Architects – CMC welcomes more than 1.8 million visits annually, making it one of the most visited museums in the country. For more information, visit   

About the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened in August 2004 on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Since then, more than 1.3 million people have visited its permanent and changing exhibits and public programs, inspiring everyone to take courageous steps for freedom. Two million people have utilized educational resources online at, working to connect the lessons of the Underground Railroad to inform and inspire today’s global and local fight for freedom. Partnerships include Historians Against Slavery, Polaris Project, Free the Slaves, US Department of State and International Justice Mission. In 2014, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center launched a new online resource in the fight against modern slavery,