Old Governor's Mansion earns museum accreditation
The Old Governor’s Mansion on the campus of Georgia College has been recognized as a national museum leader by the American Association of Museums through the awarding of AAM Museum Accreditation.
The accreditation affirms the museum meets National Standards and Best Practices for U.S. Museums and joins the community of institutions that hold themselves accountable to excellence: High Museum of Art Atlanta; the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins, Ga.; and The White House.
“This accreditation is not only an achievement for the Old Governor’s Mansion but for the university as well,” said Interim President Stas Preczewski. “With this distinction, the university offers one of only a handful of museums in the state to reach this peak.”
Accredited museums are looked up to as leaders in the field, wrote Dr. Bonnie W. Styles, chair of the accreditation commission in her award letter.
“Through a rigorous process of self assessment and review by its peers, the museum has shown itself to be a good steward of its resources held in the public trust,” she said.
The accreditation process included submission of more than 3,000 pages of documents, including the mansion’s restoration, collection manuals and interpretive and furnishing plans.
“This is a monumental achievement,” said mansion director Jim Turner. “When I came here nearly 20 years ago, I had three goals: See the mansion through its historic restoration; transform the mansion into a scholarly-based interpretation with the correct collection to mirror that interpretation; and obtain this accreditation — tasks now complete.”
Curator Matt Davis guided the accreditation application and collected historic pieces for the mansion.
“Going through the accreditation process helped us evaluate and improve what we do at the mansion. It has helped us become a better museum that will continue to serve as a model site within our field,” Davis said. “The completion of the accreditation process is one of the highlights of my career, and I am thankful to the mansion and university staff members who diligently worked toward the completion of this process.”
Completed in 1839, the Old Governor's Mansion exemplifies High Greek Revival architecture.
During the Civil War, the mansion was claimed as a "prize" in the "March to the Sea," when Gen. William T. Sherman headquartered his army in the building Nov. 22, 1864.
Following the war, Georgia relocated its capital to Atlanta, abandoning the mansion.
In 1889 the mansion became the founding building of Georgia Normal & Industrial College (currently known as Georgia College).
The Old Governor’s Mansion was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973.
Beginning in the late 1990s the university launched an initiative to return the mansion to its antebellum splendor.
Following five years of intensive historical, structural, and material research, the Old Governor's Mansion began its long awaited historic restoration in November 2001, reopening in 2005.
“With the help of former university presidents Rosemary DePaolo and Dorothy Leland, we were able to achieve state funding for the restoration along with a generous grant from The Woodfruff Foundation,” Turner said.
Today the mansion is a house museum, serving Georgia College and the general public. The museum has previously been recognized through awards received from the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, the Georgia Historical Society, and the International Association of Interior Design.
The mansion offers Georgia College students opportunities for history major internships, academic support and a strong education outreach to the Milledgeville-Baldwin County community.
For information on mansion tours and other programming, visit gcsu.edu/mansion or call 478-445-4545.