Oglebay Institute Museums Recognized for 50 Years of National Excellence by the American Alliance of Museums

The Museums of Oglebay Institute (Mansion Museum and Glass Museum) have again achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition afforded to the nation’s museums. This year’s accreditation marks 50 years that Oglebay Institute has achieved and maintained this national recognition of excellence.

Located in Oglebay Park in Wheeling, West Virginia, The Museums of Oglebay Institute include the Mansion Museum, the famous former home of Oglebay founder Earl W. Oglebay, and the Glass Museum, which features a world-class collection of Wheeling-made glass. 

The Museums of Oglebay Institute have been accredited by AAM since 1972, which was the second year of the program. All museums must undergo a reaccreditation review at least every 10 years to maintain accredited status. Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, to governments, funders, outside agencies, and to the museum-going public. 

“We must credit the foresight of the museums’ staff in the 1970s, who joined with leaders in the museums field to become one of the first 170 museums in the United States to be accredited by AAM. They set a high bar for their successors, who have followed their example of maintaining the high standards of professional practices for 50 years,” said Christin Byrum, director of The Museums of Oglebay Institute. 

To celebrate this accomplishment, the public is invited to an open house from 10 am-5 pm on Sunday, January 7. Visitors can explore both the Mansion Museum and Glass Museum free of charge and enjoy cookies and punch at each location. 

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 more than 50 years, the Alliance’s museum accreditation program is the field’s primary vehicle for quality assurance, self-regulation, and public accountability. It strengthens the museum profession by promoting practices that enable leaders to make informed decisions, allocate resources wisely, and remain financially and ethically accountable to provide the best possible service to the public. 

The accreditation is an achievement that is earned by few museums. Of the nation’s estimated 33,000 museums, 1,107 are currently accredited, a little more than three percent of museums. The Museums of Oglebay Institute are one of only five museums accredited in West Virginia. While the Mansion Museum and Glass Museum have separate physical locations, they are classified as one museum by AAM.

Accreditation is a very rigorous but highly rewarding process that examines all aspects of a museum’s operations. To earn accreditation a museum first must 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. 

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

  • The dedication of Oglebay Institute staff and volunteer members of the Committee of the Museums of Oglebay Institute has enabled the museums to maintain the prestigious accreditation status for 50 years. Pictured, left to right, are Holly McCluskey, curator of glass; Kara Yenkevich, curator; Gerry Reilly, assistant director, Michael Hires, committee chairperson; Christin Byrum, director of museums, and Kassie Edwards, incoming committee chairperson.

The Museums of Oglebay Institute serve as a celebration of culture and history. Through careful curation, they serve as informal classrooms where visitors travel through time, connecting with the past through the objects that people have left behind.

The 1846 Mansion Museum is the former home of Cleveland industrialist Earl W. Oglebay. With its impressive collection, displayed in 13 period rooms, as well as permanent and changing exhibits in its galleries, the Mansion Museum enhances the appreciation and understanding of American decorative arts, fosters knowledge of Wheeling history, and celebrates the legacy of the Oglebay family. 

Oglebay Institute’s Glass Museum celebrates Wheeling’s glass industry with a world-class collection of more than 3,500 pieces of Wheeling-made glass. The museum boasts the largest collection of Northwood glass in the world as well as the largest public collection of Duval glass in the world. The famous Sweeney Punch Bowl, the largest piece of cut glass in the world, is also a highlight of the museum. Visitors can also experience the art of glassmaking through live demonstrations and workshops in Oglebay Institute’s glass studio.

In 2022, Oglebay Institute’s Glass Museum was renovated, redesigned, and reimagined to better showcase its prestigious collection and create a more meaningful visitor experience through extensive physical and interpretive improvements. 

The Museums of Oglebay Institute are operated by the non-profit, cultural organization Oglebay Institute. Other Oglebay Institute facilities include Stifel Fine Arts Center and School of Dance on National Road, Towngate Theatre in the Centre Market District, and Schrader Environmental Education Center in Oglebay.

Hours of operation for The Museums of Oglebay Institute change seasonally. Now through January 7, the Mansion and Glass Museums are open Sunday-Thursday 10 am-5 pm; Friday- Saturday 10 am-10 pm. The Museums are closed in the month of January and re-open on weekends only in February from 10 am-5 pm.

About the American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community. For more information, visit www.aam-us.org.