DORSET County Museum is celebrating achieving the highest national standard for museums.

The Dorchester museum has received full museum accreditation from Arts Council England in its latest round of awards.

The status is only given to museums that achieve a set of nationally agreed standards including meeting users’ needs and expectations, driving improvement forward and working with other organisations.

The accreditation will be valid for a period of three years, after which the museum will need to demonstrate that it is continuing to meet all the main management and service objectives whilst maintaining the highest levels of collections care.

Director of the Dorset County Museum Dr Jon Murden said that everyone at the museum was ‘proud’ to receive the recognition but vowed that they would not be resting on their laurels as they look to make further improvements.

He said: “We are very proud to have achieved the high standards necessary for Arts Council accreditation.

“To improve the museum even further, we are now working on a major new project which will result in the complete redisplay of our Archaeology Gallery – this will be a fantastic new resource for all our visitors and especially for our local residents, members and supporters.”

There are currently around 1,800 museums in the UK that are part of the Arts Council’s accreditation scheme, which was established in 1988.

Since then it has helped lead the way in raising museum standards across the country and has inspired similar schemes overseas.

The Dorset County Museum was established back in 1845 after poet William Barnes and the vicar of Fordington Reverend Henry Moule decided to form an organisation to protect the natural history and archaeology of the area in the wake of the industrial revolution.

The museum moved to its current premises from another site in High West Street in 1883, with The Rev Moule’s son – also called Henry – appointed first full time creator.

Last year the Dorset County Museum launched its development appeal to raise £6million for a new Collections Discovery Centre that will give greater public access to its huge collection of artefacts.