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2024 Awards of Distinction

Giving Voice to Value Annual Conference | Albany, NY

April 6 - 9, 2024

Museums, museum professionals, industry partners, and legislative leaders will be recognized for their exceptional achievements at MANY’s 2024 annual conference “Giving Voice to Value” in Albany, New York this April. The fifteen awards celebrate unique leadership, dedicated community service, transformational visitor experiences, community engagement, and innovative programs that use collections and resources to support museums and to tell stories of everyone who calls New York home.  

Excellence in Design

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

Publications & Graphics


“Munson Rebranded and Redesigned Bulletin Newsletter”

In 2023, the Munson announced a rebrand and new name for the 104-year-old institution to commence its next chapter. Munson staff met with hundreds of community members, surveyed visitors and members, and hosted focus groups to gain a better understanding of what is important to its constituents and what they value in the organization. The Munson marketing department redesigned the Member Bulletin using the new brand identity to express the organization as being a welcoming community center with constant activity and opportunities for people of all ages to interact with art in a variety of ways. 

Media & Marketing

Buffalo AKG Art Museum

“New Graphic Identity”

Following a $230 million campus development and expansion, the Buffalo AKG Art Museum’s Communications Department was tasked to inform the community about the construction project to expand the museum to more than 50,000 square feet, introduce the museum’s new identity, inspire people to attend the museum’s opening in May 2023, and continue to visit the expanded museum. The Communications Department guided the design and implementation of the museum’s largest advertising campaign to date which included print, digital, social media, radio, podcasts, and billboards. 


Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College

“What Now? (Or Not Yet)/Body Matters”

“What Now? (Or Not Yet)/Body Matters” was a two-part physical exhibition designed to engage the campus and community to reflect on how collections change and evolve and how artists help us see or shape the past and future. The first version of this exhibition opened in January 2023 and was curated by John Murphy and Alyx Raz. Simultaneously, six Vassar students worked to “re-curate” the same object list. These students reimagined the exhibition, changed the layout, and highlighted different perspectives through new pairings and interpretive text, wall color, exhibition graphic design, and title to “Body Matters.” 

Virtual Exhibition

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

“A Dark, A Light, A Bright: The Designs of Dorothy Liebes”

“A Dark, A Bright, A Light: The Designs of Dorothy Liebes” is the first monographic exhibition dedicated to Dorothy Liebes (1897-1972) in over 50 years. The exhibition demonstrated the full spectrum of Liebes’ contributions to American design, reinserting her name and her work into the story of mid-20th-century design in the United States. The virtual exhibition prioritizes storytelling, both visual and written, inviting visitors to choose a topic to explore her impact on interiors, fashion, film, and industrial design, and meet some of the studio weavers who contributed to the success of the Dorothy Liebes Studio.

Engaging Communities

These awards celebrate organizations that use exceptional and resourceful methods to engage their communities and build new audiences. Awards are made based on the size of an organization’s operating budget.  

Volunteer - $99,999

Conference House Association

“30th Anniversary Wards Point/Aakawaxung Munahanung Site”

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Ward’s Point Archaeological National Site on Staten Island, the first NYC Landmark specifically recognizing the many generations of Indigenous peoples who lived on Aakawaxung Munahanung (Island Protected from the Wind) Archeological Site, the Conference House Association partnered with NYC Parks, the Tottenville Historical Society, the Delaware Tribe of Indians, and the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians to create a Wisdom Walk at Conference House Park. The Wisdom Walk is intended to honor, remember, and focus on the Indigenous People who were the original inhabitants of Staten Island and Tottenville. 

$100,000 - 250,000

John Brown Lives!

“Adirondack Family Book Festival”

The Adirondack Family Book Festival is an annual public event that has reached more than 1,000 people, bringing together children and young adult authors and illustrators to the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid, NY, providing an opportunity for families to come together and experience the joy of reading through interactive author and illustrator talks, a youth panel, and hands-on art making. This event fosters conversation around critical and timely topics through in-person interactions with authors and illustrators, and experiential activities. 

$500,000 - 999,999

Syracuse University Art Museum

“Take Me to the Palace of Love”

Inspired by “Take Me…to the Palace of Love” a 2003 art installation by contemporary artist Rina Banerjee about home and diaspora, Syracuse University Art Museum used art selected from its collection as well as from other Central New York museums in conjunction with Banerjee’s “Viola, from New Orleans” a work that explores inter-racial marriage in America and “A World Lost” an installation that critiques climate change. The museum invited the University community, new Americans, and under-represented communities in the city of Syracuse (a resettlement city for Afghans, Nepalese, Bhutanese, Somalians, and Syrians) to document their own stories about identity and place -individually and collectively- in dialogue with Banerjee who was the University’s Jeannette K. Watson Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Humanities. 

$1,000,000 - 4,999,999

The Long Island Museum

“SOMOS/ WE ARE: Latinx Artists of Long Island

The Long Island Museum’s first exhibition to be presented entirely in English and Spanish, “SOMOS/WE ARE: Latinx Artists of Long Island” was a collaborative exhibition with associated programming focusing on the rich cultural heritage and artistic contributions of the Latinx community on Long Island that featured 82 regional artists and explored their diverse styles, media, personal stories, and familial national origins. In addition to bilingual exhibition text, the museum’s education staff published a bilingual Family Gallery Guide and offered Spanish language tours, including one for the Long Island Latino Teachers Association which contributed to an increase in school tours from school districts on Long Island with a high percentage of Latinx students, including Hempstead, Springs, Copiague, Tuckahoe, North Babylon, and Brentwood. The museum also hosted a ¡ESTAMOS! symposium that featured an artist discussion and performances as well as a free Family Fun Day in October which set a record 600 person attendance for Día de los Muertos, many of whom were first-time visitors.

Over $5M

Museum of Jewish Heritage –A Living Memorial to the Holocaust

“Holocaust Educator School Partnership”

Piloted in the 2022-2023 school year, the Museum of Jewish Heritage’s Holocaust Educator School Partnership expanded New York City public school student’s access to Holocaust education by recruiting and selecting interns from undergraduate and graduate students currently studying in the New York City metropolitan area to teach Holocaust history in local schools and lead exhibition tours. The program is expecting to serve more than 10,000 NYC public school students during the 2023-2024 school year.

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.

Emily Stewart

Senior Director of Education & Curation, Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology (MOST)

In 2017, Emily Stewart joined the MOST as a program assistant while finishing her PhD before being promoted to Senior Director of Education & Curation. Stewart quickly applied her background as an interdisciplinary historian to better connect museum visitors to science and technology. She doubled the education staff from four to eight and created a new Inclusion Programs Coordinator role to increase awareness and participation in the community. Stewart led several new hands-on programs that focus on STEM education including “Future Innovators” for Black, Indigenous, and Students of Color connecting local BIPOC STEM professionals with hands-on sessions with kids and mentoring them on succeeding in technology careers and “Future Women in STEM” which connects middle school girls with female STEM professionals which all have contributed to a new 2023 museum attendance record.

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.

Julia Butterfield

K-12 Programs Coordinator, Historic Hudson Valley

Julia Butterfield joined Historic Hudson Valley (HHV) as a part-time Museum Educator in 2018, leading tours and field trips at Philipsburg Manor, one of HHV’s colonial properties and the site where HHV has interpreted the history of Northern slavery for two decades. She has demonstrated tremendous commitment to the practice of public history and to the particular stories of the enslaved individuals who lived and worked at Philipsburg Manor. In 2022, Butterfield was promoted to the full-time position of K-12 Programs Coordinator, where she strengthened her leadership skills by assisting new educator training, advocating for expanding accessibility initiatives, and creating more inclusive documents such as social narratives for disabled visitors and bilingual materials. 

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.

Heidi Hill

Historic Site Manager, Crailo and Schuyler Mansion State Historic Sites

Under Heidi Hill’s leadership, Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site has undergone extensive preservation and restoration projects, initiated new interpretation to include more underrepresented voices in Schuyler Mansion’s narrative, partnered with local organizations such as Historic Cherry Hill and Underground Railroad for joint school tours, and hosted community events including “Pinkster” a holiday that was celebrated over several days by African and Dutch New Yorkers throughout the 1700s. Under Hill’s leadership, this festival was revived at Crailo State Historic Site and Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site to increase awareness of this historic event that documented early African cultural expression in New York State and welcomed more than 400 people. During Hill’s tenure, she has amplified the voices of the enslaved people who lived and worked at the Mansion and led her staff through groundbreaking research uncovering the history of Alexander Hamilton as an enslaver. 

Prior to her almost 19 years at Crailo and Schuyler Mansion State Historic Sites, Heidi was the Interpretive Programs Assistant at Clermont State Historic Site and at Olana State Historic Site.

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.

The Strong Museum of Play

“The Strong Neighborhood of Play”

The “Neighborhood of Play” is a $100 million neighborhood development project that features a 90,000 sq. ft. expansion of the Strong Museum of Play; a new 1,000-space parking garage; a new nationally branded contemporary hotel with 175 rooms; four mixed-use apartment buildings totaling 328,500 sq. ft. and 150 units; and a 6,300 sq. ft., single-story retail building.

The project is centered around and built upon the international brand of the Strong Museum of Play, which attracts more than 500,000 visitors to downtown Rochester annually and generates more than 4.5 billion media impressions worldwide.

The highly visible project is in the heart of Rochester on land formerly occupied by the Inner Loop highway. The design balances the needs of each of the three development teams partnering on the project, including challenges with construction schedule, phasing, and staging in a high-density urban environment.

Distinguished Service to Museums Award

This year, MANY is honored to award Senator James Cooney (SD-56) and Assemblymember Didi Barrett (AD-106) for their exemplary support for museums in New York State. 

MANY is deeply grateful for the efforts of bill author and sponsor Assemblymember Barrett and Senate bill sponsor Senator Cooney whose actions helped the nearly unanimous passage of The Museum Study Act which Governor Hochul included in the 2023/24 New York State Budget with $1 million in funding. 

Award winners will be honored during the 2024 annual conference “Giving Voice to Value” at the Albany Hilton Downtown on Monday, April 8 at 12:30 PM. Media inquiries are welcome for photo opportunities and interviews with awardees. 

Awards of Distinction are supported by Lighting Services, Inc.

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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