News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 16, 2011

Swope achieves coveted accreditation

Process took three years

Brian Boyce
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Long an anchor of the Wabash Valley cultural scene, Swope Art Museum has once again achieved national recognition.

Officials announced Thursday afternoon that, for the fourth consecutive time since 1972, the Swope Art Museum has earned accreditation from the American Association of Museums. The AAM is the nation’s 106-year-old authority on museum excellence, and of America’s 17,500 institutions, it has accredited fewer than 800.

Executive director Marianne Richter remarked that the Swope is one of only 18 accredited museums in Indiana.

“Only 4.5 percent of the American museums have achieved accreditation and less than one-quarter of AAM-accredited museums have a track record of four,” she said. “The process is rigorous and took three years to complete.”

Board member Kathy Brentlinger described the Swope as an “anchor” of the community’s cultural endeavors, noting that translates to observable excellence.

“There are very few museums that have attained this honor four times,” she said.

Dominating much of South Seventh Street’s first block, the Swope’s 33,798 square feet contain about 3,000 objects at any given time, Richter said.

Open and free to the public, room after room of the building contain works of American art in mediums ranging from paint to sculpture. The work of Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, Frederick MacMonnies and Anna Hyatt Huntington are among those on display.

Board member Rick Shagley said the accreditation goes to show that no matter a town’s size, achievement such as this is possible.

“We’re very excited, very honored to be accredited once again,” he said.

Other museums earning accreditation include the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Board member Mary Ann Carroll said community support was key to the local museum earning its honors. Accreditors interviewed residents about the Swope, and comments referring to it as an “anchor” and “foundation” were so strong that the decision seemed to have been made with ease, she said.

Richter said the accreditation is a continuation of the museum’s tradition of excellence, recounting its status on a “Top 10” list produced by USA Today in November 2010.

The coming year will be one full of activity at the Swope, as the museum prepares to enter its 70th season open to the public.

“2012 is a very big year for us,” Richter said, explaining March 12, 1942, was the first date it opened to the public.

Next October the museum will feature its original core collection, as well as the work of Rogers Cox, its first director.

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or