ITHF & Museum achieves accreditation status
May 22, 2013
NEWPORT, R.I. — The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum has achieved accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), which is the highest professional achievement in the museum industry. AAM Accreditation indicates that the accredited museum is operating at the highest level of museum professional standards and that it demonstrates a commitment to excellence in all that it does: governance, collections stewardship, public programs, financial stability, and continued institutional improvement. Of the nation’s estimated 17,500 museums, just over 1,000 are accredited, and the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is the first sports hall of fame to receive the honor. It is the second sports museum (American Museum of Fly Fishing) and the second hall of fame (Country Music Hall of Fame) to achieve this distinction.
In celebration of this honor, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum will be hosting an Open House Day on Saturday, May 25 for all Rhode Island residents, offering free admission for the local community to explore this unique cultural attraction in their own backyards. Rhode Island residents simply need to show valid proof of residency at the entrance for free admission.
“Accredited museums have met and exceeded the highest standards of the museum field, in everything they do. On behalf of the Alliance, I extend congratulations to the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, and I would like to single out the extraordinary leadership of Chairman Christopher Clouser, CEO Mark Stenning, and Museum Director Doug Stark – all three are the embodiment of the museum’s commitment to excellence,” said Ford W. Bell, president of the American Alliance of Museums. “Accreditation is a significant achievement. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and the communities it serves, that being the local community and the worldwide tennis industry, should be extremely proud.”
AAM’s Museum Accreditation program has been developed and maintained by museum professionals for 40 years. Museums undertake a rigorous and time-consuming process to be considered. To earn accreditation, a museum must first conduct a year of self-study, then undergo a site visit by a team of peer reviewers. AAM’s Accreditation Commission, an independent and autonomous body of museum professionals, review and evaluate the self-study and visiting committee report to determine whether a museum should receive accreditation.
The accreditation process in itself is highly valuable, providing a museum staff with a focused manner to evaluate efforts, and providing an outlet for peer-based review and validation of a museum’s operations and impact. Ultimately, receiving the distinction of accreditation increases a museum’s credibility and sense of value to funders, policy makers, visitors, community, and peers.
“The museum is the heart and soul of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. It is the one and only tennis hall of fame in the world, and in the museum we work diligently to preserve the history of the sport and inspire its future. We are grateful and humbled by this great distinction from the American Alliance of Museums,” stated International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum Chairman Christopher E. Clouser. “As an organization, we strive every day to serve the sport of tennis and our community, and this recognition is greatly appreciated by all involved. In particular, the Board of Directors salutes our 6-person museum staff, led by Doug Stark, who have made this distinction possible. They are saddled with a significant amount of work for a small staff, but their dedication to our mission and commitment to excellence is really what makes the museum work so well, and for that we are all grateful.”
The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum was founded in 1954. It was originally focused on American tennis history and players, and expanded to have an international focus in 1975. The museum is located in Newport, Rhode Island, at the historic Newport Casino, a grand facility that has deep roots in tennis history. In 1881, the facility hosted the very first U.S. National Lawn Tennis Championships. The event was hosted at the facility until 1914, at which point it moved to New York and eventually became known as the US Open. The facility remains an active tennis facility today, as host to the annual Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, an ATP World Tour event.
The museum’s goal is to showcase and preserve the history of tennis from its origins through present-day, to honor the great champions and leaders in the sport with the highest honor in tennis, Hall of Fame enshrinement, and to preserve the historic tennis facility at which it is located.
The museum’s curatorial staff work diligently to keep the collection and displays current, relatable, and interesting for tennis enthusiasts and casual visitors alike. Within the museum, visitors experience the evolution of tennis history in interesting collection items ranging from Victorian tennis dresses worn by women in the 1800s to Serena Williams’ tennis dress from her 2012 Olympic Gold Medal match. The story of tennis is showcased through traditional memorabilia such as trophies, racquets, and photography, but also through more unexpected items. These items include a 5,000 piece tennis-themed stamp collection, which highlights the impact of the sport all over the globe, or personal communications between Arthur Ashe and Martin Luther King, Jr., showcasing the sport’s overlap into social history. Of course, as a Hall of Fame, the museum also pays tribute to the greatest champions and leaders of the sport. Since 1954, 224 individuals from 19 nations have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame, and each one is represented in the museum in various ways.
The museum staff constantly works to grow the collection and to acquire items that play a role in preserving the history of the sport, making it possible to share this history with fans and to inspire future fans. The museum staff works through a variety of means to achieve this. For example, a 16th century Renaissance painting that is believed the be the earliest known painting of the sport was acquired at auction; videotapes of a young John McEnroe practicing were acquired via a donation from the family; and Andy Roddick’s iconic American flag themed Babolat sneakers that were worn at his last match before retirement were obtained thanks to the quick thinking of a USTA public relations staffer who asked Roddick to leave the shoes for display at the Hall of Fame.
Changing exhibits are an additional highlight of the museum’s efforts to interpret the history of tennis in a way that will appeal to visitors. Most recently, a “Tennis and Hollywood” exhibit was installed, and other recent themed exhibits have included colorful cases of historic tennis ball cans and a “Tennis and the Titanic” exhibit, among others. In addition, the Hall of Fame often takes the museum’s messages beyond Newport, through traveling exhibits at special events, including an annual exhibition at the US Open and a special exhibition on “Tennis and the Olympics” slated for 2014 at the Barcelona Olympic Museum.
An additional facet of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum’s mission is to inspire the future of tennis, and the museum team works diligently to welcome youngsters into the museum to see what opportunities the game can offer. In 2010, the Hall of Fame launched a “Kids Free” program, granting free admission to kids ages 16 & under. Since that time, more than 14,000 children have visited, including numerous youth groups and schools.
In addition to the 12,000-square foot, 18-gallery museum, the Hall of Fame operates an Information Research Center, which contains more than 350,000 publications, photographs, and audio-visual materials available for journalists, historians, and students to utilize in their work.
In Rhode Island, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is the sixth museum to be accredited, joining in the esteemed company with the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design; Newport Art Museum and Art Association; Preservation Society of Newport County; Rhode Island Historical Society; and Slater Mill Historic Site. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is one of just 65 sites that are both National Historic Landmarks and AAM Accredited museums.
About the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum
Established in 1954, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit institution dedicated to preserving the history of tennis, inspiring and encouraging junior tennis development, providing a landmark for tennis enthusiasts worldwide, and honoring tennis heroes and heroines with the highest honor in the sport of tennis- enshrinement in the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In 1986, the International Tennis Federation, the governing body of tennis, officially recognized the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum as the sport’s official Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is located in Newport, Rhode Island, USA, on a six-acre property that features an extensive museum chronicling the history of the sport and honoring the 224 Hall of Famers; 13 grass tennis courts and an indoor tennis facility that are open to the public and to a club membership; a rare Court Tennis facility; and an historic 295-seat theatre. Annually in July, the venue hosts the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships for the Van Alen Cup, an ATP World Tour event. The buildings and grounds, which were constructed in 1880 by McKim, Mead & White to serve as a social club for Newport’s summer residents, are renowned for their incredible architecture and preservation. The facility was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is supported by Official Partners including Alex and Ani, Chubb Personal Insurance, Corona, EMC, Fila, Kia Motors and Rolex Watch USA. For information on the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and its programs, call 401-849-3990 or visit us online at www.tennisfame.com.