The Johnson County Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum has again achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums, the highest national recognition afforded the nation’s museums. Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, to governments, funders, outside agencies, and to the museum-going public. The Johnson County Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum was initially accredited since 2002. All museums must undergo a reaccreditation review at least every 10 years to maintain accredited status.

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 over 45 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 in order to provide the best possible service to the public.

“Going through this reaccreditation process has made the Johnson County Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum staff, board, and volunteers refocus on the mission and purpose of the museum—reigniting a feeling of excitement as we work cohesively for the museum’s continued success. This national recognition reinforces our commitment at the museum to attain the highest standards of collections care, financial responsibility, education goals, and community outreach. Having an accredited museum in Buffalo speaks of the dedication of the Johnson County community to achieve great things.” Sylvia Bruner, director.


Of the nation’s estimated 33,000 museums, over 1070 are currently accredited. The Johnson County Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum is one of only six museums accredited in Wyoming.

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.

“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.”

Some statistical information about national museum accreditation which applies to the Johnson County Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum:
 22% of accredited museums are history museums
 8% of accredited museums operate with $350,000 annually or less
 2% of accredited museums are governed by county/regional governance
 15% of accredited museums have 1-5 staff people
 14% of accredited museums are located in the mountain plans region

For a small western history museum, this major accomplishment ranks the museum in the same echelons for standards as the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles, California, the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C., and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, New York.

The Johnson County Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum has been a part of the Buffalo community since 1900 when Jim Gatchell opened a drugstore. The Buffalo Pharmacy was a stopping place for cowboys, lawmen, settlers, cattle barons, and famous army scouts. As a trusted friend of the region’s Native Americans, he received many gifts representing the culture including guns, war bonnets, tools, medicine bags, bows, arrows, and clothing. Soon local residents were donating mementos of Johnson County’s historic names, places, and events.

After Jim Gatchell’s death in 1954, his family generously donated his collection to the people of Johnson County with the provision that a museum be built to house it. After three years of fundraising the museum was established. The Johnson County Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum is dedicated to sustaining the late Jim Gatchell’s vision of preserving the history of Johnson County, Wyoming, through the collection and conservation of related art and artifacts. The museum develops interpretive exhibits, publications, and programs to help educate our visitors on the historical events that shaped modern-day Johnson County.

Located in the heart of Buffalo at 100 Fort Street, Buffalo WY, 82834. Open year-round. Visit or call 307-684-9331 A “Re-accreditation Celebration” is being planned for Saturday, May 19, 2018.


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

This information was distributed via press release from Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum Director, Sylvia Bruner.

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