The Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School Selected to Participate in National Museum Assessment Program

posted April 13, 2016 

The Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School has been selected to participate in the Museum Assessment Program (MAP). Through guided self-study and on-site consultation with a museum professional, participation in MAP will empower The Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School to better serve the community of Pine Ridge by facilitating its meeting and exceeding the highest professional standards of the museum field.

The program is funded by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and throughout its 30 years has been administered by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). As part of the IMLS National Leadership program, MAP advances best practices and fosters improvement in museums. MAP is a self-motivated program; application to and participation in MAP is initiated by each local institution, and those accepted invest considerable human and institutional resources into the assessment.

The Heritage Center was awarded its first collections stewardship assessment grant from IMLS in 2002, which lead to its work to inventory, catalog and photographically record the Center’s permanent collection. Since that time, the resulting catalog has served as a guide for the direction of the collection, its marketing and the Center’s ability to sustain the cultural heritage of Native people.  

This new assessment is critical to the Center’s ability to maintain and improve stewardship of a collection that is singular in its historic and cultural significance. When many Native people must travel to Washington, D.C. or other faraway locations to see creative works from their culture, the Oglala Lakota people on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation have access to current tribal, historical, fine 2D and 3D art, textiles, books and publications through The Heritage Center. This obligation to the community to ensure that the collection is well-housed and accessible to the community and visitors from around the world is paramount towards its mission.  

While the previous assessment gave the Center a solid foundation to take on the work that would unfold in the decade that followed, this new review will focus on updating policies and procedures, as well as prioritizing facility and technology needs to prepare for another 50 years of collections stewardship. Outcomes of the assessment will include an actionable work plan outlining priorities for curatorial staff and position the Center for future accreditation with the American Association of Museums.

MAP is a confidential process of self-study, peer review and implementation. Museums use the assessment process to strengthen operations, build capacity, and enhance communication throughout the organization and in response to community needs. Participant museums choose one of three categories for its assessment: Collections Stewardship Organizational, Community Engagement. The Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School will take part in the Collections Stewardship assessment process, alongside small and mid-sized museums of all types, including art, history, science and technology, children’s, natural history, historic houses, nature centers, botanical gardens, and zoos participate in the program.

“Choosing to be part of the MAP program is indicative of the commitment to civic involvement, public service and overall excellence on the part of The Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School,” said Laura Lott, president of AAM. “Studies have shown America’s museums to be among the country’s most trusted and valued institutions. MAP is designed to make them even better.”

Since its creation in 1981, the MAP program has served over 4,300 museums. MAP is supported through a cooperative agreement with IMLS. For more information, including a complete list of museums participating in MAP, please visit, call (202) 289-9118 or e-mail

AAM is the only organization representing the nation’s entire museum community and has been dedicated to promoting excellence within the museum field for over 100 years. For more information about AAM, visit The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. To learn more about the Institute, please visit:

The Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School maintains one of the country’s most prolific collections of Native American art with almost 10,000 pieces of Lakota historic and contemporary Native art in the permanent collection. The Center is located just four miles north of Pine Ridge, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation and is open six days a week. For more information contact the Center directly at (605) 867-8257 or visit online at


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