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Museum Association of New York Expands Awards of Distinction

October 13, 2022 9:39 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

Award nominations open Monday, October 17

The Museum Association of New York’s (MANY) Awards of Distinction recognize the exceptional achievements of New York’s museums and museum professionals. Awards celebrate museums and honor museum professionals who create transformative experiences for visitors, shape innovative programs, and use collections to tell the stories of everyone who calls New York home.

“Museums across the State of New York create exceptional exhibitions, programs and activities for their communities, audiences, and visitors to our state,” said MANY Board President and The Rockwell Museum Executive Director Brian Lee Whisenhunt. “MANY’s expanded awards programs increases the number of people and organizations that can be recognized; takes into consideration the broad differences in the size and scope of the museums in the State; and celebrates the incredible work museums and museum professionals are doing for communities large and small, urban and rural.”

Any museum or individual may nominate an organization, person(s), or project completed in 2022 at a museum, heritage, or cultural organization in New York State. Nomination of oneself or one’s organization is permissible and encouraged.


Excellence in Design

This award acknowledges extraordinary achievement in design in three categories: Publications/Graphics, Media/Marketing Campaigns, and Exhibition Design. 

Publications & Graphics –Recognizes excellence in the graphic design of a museum publication. Award winners are selected for overall design concept, creativity, accessibility, and how the museum branding and mission are communicated. Nominations may include online or digital publications such as annual reports, membership materials, exhibition catalogues, museum guides/brochures, school program materials, books, etc.

Media & Marketing –Applauds an imaginative and original print or digital marketing campaign in either earned or paid media. Award winners are selected for overall creative strategy, accessibility, innovative implementation, and cohesiveness across multiple communication channels. Nominations may include social media campaigns, print ads, digital ads, annual appeal or capital campaigns, event or program promotions, etc.

Exhibition –Honors a physical or digital exhibition produced by a cultural organization that articulates content through engaging design and creates a rewarding and memorable experience. Nominations may include exhibitions whose theme is expressed in unusual ways, installs collection items in creative or unconventional ways, or uses a fresh or experimental approach to accessible design.


Engaging Communities

These awards celebrate organizations that use exceptional and resourceful methods to engage their communities and build new audiences. Nominated projects can include innovative preservation or digital technology to increase public access to museum collections or programs that broaden community partnerships. Nominations may include collections interpretation, exhibitions, lecture series, educational or public programs, civic engagement, focus groups, strategic planning, or other community connection efforts. Awards are made based on the size of an organization’s operating budget.  

  • Volunteer - $99,999

  • $100,000 – $250,000

  • $251,000 - $499,999

  • $500,000 - $999,999

  • $1,000,000 – 4,999,999

  • Over $5M


Individual Achievement

The Individual Achievement Award honors a dedicated museum professional or volunteer that played a significant role in advancing their organizations. Award winners are selected for their valuable contributions to expanding audience reach, increasing the number and types of staff, successful campaigns for endowment or capital projects, or instilling financial stability at their organization. Nominations are accepted for a museum staff person or a museum trustee or volunteer.


Anne Ackerson Innovation in Museum Leadership

The Anne Ackerson Innovation in Museum Leadership Award honors a museum professional who during their career made significant contributions to the museum field or to their organization. This award commends a staff leader or board member that saw their organization through a critical challenge or significant opportunity in a creative and effective manner over a sustained period. Award winners are selected for their commitment to accessibility, equity, and inclusion, and their dedicated work towards community engagement, relevance, and sustainability. 


Rising Star

The Rising Star award celebrates a museum professional with five years or less who displays creative thinking and inspires institutional change. Nominees should be individuals whose performance demonstrates innovation, professionalism, and leadership. Multiple awards may be given to museum professionals working in programs and education or collections and exhibitions.


Board of Directors Special Achievement Award

Members of MANY’s board of directors will consider nominations for awards that do not fall into the above categories or for nominated projects that deserve exceptional attention. 


Nominations open Monday, October 17 and close Wednesday, November 30, 2022.


Nominations will be reviewed on their own merit and will be evaluated on the basis of relevance, significance to the field, overall quality, and their unique or innovative character. Judges will consider the ways in which a project demonstrates the professional growth of an organization or individual, adherence to museum standards and best practices, level of risk and return on investment, and how the project enhanced the organization’s mission. 


To learn more about the Awards of Distinction, visit nysmuseums.org/awardsofdistinction 



The Museum Association of New York helps shape a better future for museums and museum professionals by uplifting best practices and building organizational capacity through advocacy, training, and networking opportunities.

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

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