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The Museum Association of New York Announces 2019 Awards of Merit

March 18, 2019 9:01 AM | MANY Staff (Administrator)

The Museum Association of New York Announces 2019 Awards of Merit

The Museum Association of New York (MANY) has announced their 2019 Awards of Merit that will be presented to twelve individuals, museums, exhibitions, and programs from across New York State. The Awards of Merit were judged for programs conducted in 2018 and will be presented as part of the Museum Association of New York’s 2019 conference “Access and Identity” at the Otesaga Resort Hotel in Cooperstown, NY on Monday, April 8, 2019 at 8 AM.

The Awards of Merit recognizes outstanding and innovative programs, staff and volunteers who have enriched New York State museums with new and remarkable projects. The Awards of Merit are judged in seven categories by an Annual Review Committee.  

The Anne Ackerson Innovation in Leadership Award recognizes a board member or staff leader that saw their organization through a critical challenge or significant opportunity in a creative, effective manner. Kate Bennett, Past President of the Rochester Museum & Science Center will receive this year’s most prestigious award. Members of the committee noted that her work at RMSC was exemplary for the field and that she led the organization to new levels of community engagement, relevance, and sustainability.

The Rising Star Award recognizes a museum professional who is under the age of 35 and currently employed at a cultural institution. The Rising Star displays creative thinking and inspired institutional change. The Rising Star for Education/Public Programs was awarded to Kara Augustine. The committee was impressed by her work and thought-provoking approach to public programming at Historic Huguenot Street. The Rising Star for Collections/Exhibitions was awarded to Miranda Peters. The Award Review Committee was impressed by Miranda's work and how she continues to contribute meaningful work to the collections management of Fort Ticonderoga and how generously she shares her work with the museum community. 

The Award of Merit for Individual Achievement recognizes devoted staff and volunteers who are instrumental in moving their organizations forward over a sustained period. This year the committee recognized Starlyn D'Angelo for the volume and scope of work she completed in her tenure as Executive Director, her tireless motivation and significant achievements at the Shaker Heritage Society that will have lasting benefits for generations to come. 

The Excellence in Design Award, sponsored by the National Association for Museum Exhibition (NAME), recognizes an exhibition produced by a cultural institution that articulates content through engaging design and creates a satisfying visitor experience. The Excellence in Exhibition Design was awarded to Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination by The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The committee was impressed with its bold exploration of how the Catholic imagination has shaped the creativity of designers and how it is conveyed through style and narrative. The exhibition utilized several different gallery spaces starting at The Met Fifth Ave and ending at The Met Cloisters.

The Hudson River Train Tour App by Hudson River Valley Greenway and Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and OnCell for an Award of Merit in Excellence in Digital Design. The committee thought it was a compelling submission remarking that. “...this is one of the best things happening in our state and should get recognition for how it connects the public to our history and heritage.”

The Innovation in Collections Access Award recognizes exemplary projects that broaden access, preserve, and catalog museum and heritage organization collections. This year the committee recognizes Where Slavery Died Hard: The Forgotten History of Ulster County and the Shawangunk Mountain Region by the Cragsmoor Historical SocietyThe research revealed in the video was extensive and took tremendous effort for an organization of this size and resources. The story told is engaging and revelatory. The Historical Society took an impressive step towards telling difficult stories.

The Engaging Communities Award recognizes organizations that use creative methods to engage its community and build new audiences. Projects can include collections interpretation, exhibitions, lecture series, educational or public programs, focus groups, strategic planning, or other community engagement efforts. This award is given to organizations based on their operating budget:

Volunteer- $100,000

Living History Day, Boston Historical Society

Hosted by SUNY Fredonia, the Living History Day was offered on Thursday, June 7, 2018. It featured reenactors and highlighted different cultural and historical perspectives. Seven selected schools and the community were invited to participate.


Teaching with Primary Sources, Warwick Historical Society

The education team at the Warwick Historical Society received a Library of Congress grant to create a Teaching with Primary Resources Program to implement in the Warwick Valley Central School District. The Warwick Historical Society’s teaching team, 13 volunteer teachers, connected with children and young families and searched through the society’s storage barns, historic homes, and archives for artifacts that told the community's stories. Using these primary sources, they created a catalog of lessons and programs for elementary school students to adults.


Art Travelers through Time, Hofstra University Museum of Art

This year-long elementary school program is a transformative learning experience for third grade students and teachers from nine school districts and was nationally recognized by the IMLS and the NEA. It links works of art from the Hofstra University Museum of Art to school curricula, expanding and deepening classroom studies through experiential and interdisciplinary learning.

Over $1,000,000

Take It Down: Organizing Against Racism, Rochester Museum & Science Center

Using the removal of a racist panel from the historic Dentzel Carousel at Ontario Beach Park in Rochester, NY, the Take It Down: Organizing Against Racism exhibit and related programs benefited the public by galvanizing conversations around the racial inequity that has divided Rochester. Community receptions, panels, and rich discussion-based programs at each Take It Down exhibit venue demonstrated the exhibition’s ability to serve as a springboard to address issues of social justice in the Rochester community.

The Citizenship Project by the N-Y Historical Society will be presented with a MANY Board of Directors Special Achievement Award. They noted that the project transcended several of the Award Categories, was outstanding, relevant, innovative, groundbreaking and in the words of one of our reviewers "a truly brilliant use of museum resources - to the benefit of not just those who are new to our country - but to the community as a whole."

The Award Ceremony will take place at 8:00 AM on Monday, April 8, 2019 at the Otesaga Resort Hotel, Cooperstown, NY. Photo opportunities will be available. For further information please contact info@nysmuseums.org or 518-273-3400.

The Museum Association of New York strengthens the capacity of New York State’s cultural community by supporting professional standards and organizational development. We provide advocacy, training, and networking opportunities so that museums and museum professionals may better serve their missions and communities.

Museum Association of New York is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. 

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