NAME provides fellowships for young people entering the field to attend workshops and conferences. Contact NAME Board Member Becky Menlove to find out more about our current program. Click here for a list of past Fellowship recipients.
The Annual Excellence in Exhibition Competition recognizes outstanding achievement in exhibition from all types of museums, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens and non-commercial institutions offering exhibitions to the public.
The submission period for the 28th Annual Excellence in Exhibition Competition closed January 29, 2016.
Following is a list of past winners.
Twenty-Seventh Annual Excellence in Exhibitions 2015
(Alphabetical Order by Institution)
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
State of the Art
National September 11 Memorial Museum
"Interstitial Area Installations͟"
Royal British Columbia Museum
Our Living Languages: First Peoples’ Voices in British Columbia
The Office of the City Clerk Archives and Records Management Division (Boston City Archives)
Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial
Eastern State Penitentiary
The Big Graph
Peabody Essex Museum
Freeport [No. 007]: Celest Boursier-Mougenot
Twenty-Sixth Annual Excellence in Exhibitions 2014
This year’s winners were all given Special Distinction awards for their ability to embrace a key aspect of exhibition development and execute it boldly with commitment and passion.
Design for the Modern Child, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Special Distinction: Imaginative Design and Interpretation
The temporary exhibition Design for the Modern Child at the Philadelphia Art Museum was designed for children ages three to ten and their caregivers. The exhibition incorporated interactives and a wide range of objects designed especially for kids including toys, textiles, a video game, furniture, and eating utensils. The goal of the exhibition was to challenge visitors to think differently about the objects they use in their daily lives. Design for the Modern Child embraced children’s inventive potential and the particular notion that children can be creative problem solvers. The exhibition was on display from May to October, 2013.
First Peoples, Museum Victoria
Special Distinction: Innovative Integration of Design and Content
The 13,358 sq ft permanent exhibition, First Peoples, tells the story of Victoria’s Native Peoples from the time of Creation to today. It celebrates the history, culture, achievements, and survival of Victoria’s Aboriginal People—more than 40 Aboriginal language and cultural groups that are still thriving today. The exhibition was developed collaboratively and co-curated with museum staff and a group of cultural and language experts from across Victoria. This group provided cultural leadership, advocacy, support, and access to the wealth of knowledge embedded in traditional communities.
The exhibition attempts to illustrate the complexity of Aboriginal Australia before Europeans arrived. This challenged many visitors’ beliefs about Aboriginal cultures. The exhibition team’s goal was to create a space that was accessible, dynamic, and exciting, and where all visitors could feel welcome to come and share in the stories of Victoria’s First Peoples.
Jungle Trails, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden
Special Distinction: Exemplary Model of Creating Experiences for Social Engagement
Jungle Trails aims to engage families in meaningful shared experiences and to foster learning about how primates survive in the tropical forest. Family focus groups revealed that people like to compare themselves to animals and to connect personally with individual animals. Kids crave active play, and adults want to engage in that physical play along with the kids. These were among visitor findings that strongly informed the exhibition design. Jungle Trails winds visitors through a two acre path of jungle-type landscape, featuring African and Asian primates, including Sumatran orangutans, gibbons, and bonobos. Jungle Trails is a permanent exhibition at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.
Nature Lab, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
Special Distinction: Outstanding Connections Between Design, Content and Community Context
Museum scientists and researchers worked with exhibit developers to identify the key stories to highlight why Los Angeles is a biodiversity hot spot. Animal stories invite visitors to explore the exhibition in fun and unexpected ways. The exhibition’s goal is to surprise visitors with the discovery that nature in L.A. is rich and diverse—and that there’s much more of it than meets the eye. The Excellence in Exhibition Competition chose to give Nature Lab an award of special distinction for its engaging content and design which juxtaposes nature and urban life in creative and open ended ways. Its use of collections and animal stories introduces visitors to a specialized form of museum research— urban biodiversity—in a relevant and personal manner.
Nature Lab is a permanent 6,500 sq ft hands-on gallery with over 200 specimens, live animals, interactives, media, and scientist demonstrations for visitors of all ages.
Shop Life at the Lower Eastside Tenement Museum, New York City
Twenty-Fifth Annual Excellence in Exhibitions 2013
When creating exhibitions we strive to incorporate best practices into our process. By integrating visitor feedback, strong and accessible storylines, powerful objects, robust experiences, and purposeful design, we hope our exhibitions will resonate with the public. This year’s winners, however, took their projects a step further. Each exhibition highlighted here had a unique vision or intent that guided the process and set it apart from many other projects. Through sheer beauty, visitor empowerment, community engagement, or integrated architecture, each of these winners pushed forward an element of exhibit development or design and created an exhibition worthy of recognition. Congratulations to this year’s winners!
Special Distinction: Aesthetics and Materials
The temporary exhibition Light: Installations by Bruce Munro at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania displayed eight light installations by UK artist Bruce Munro. The interpretive goal of Light was to create a nocturnal artistic intervention that illuminated areas of the property in compelling and transformative ways.Artworks were strategically placed throughout Longwood Gardens to highlight a range of areas within the gardens, transforming lakes, meadows, forests, and fields in ways that demonstrated the links between nature and culture. The installation altered everyday materials such as recycled CDs and PET bottles into beautiful art.
Special Distinction: Messaging and Engagement
Health Happens Here at The California Museum in Sacramento was developed for California elementary students and policy makers. Components promote interactivity, personal connections, and empowerment. By playing kid-friendly games, visitors explore connections between health and communities, including food access, urban sprawl, public education, civic participation, sustainable community- building, social equity, and environmental issues.
Special Distinction: Community Engagement
Chicago History Museum’s temporary exhibition Out in Chicago explored the vibrant lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) history of Chicago. It detailed the emergence of diverse LGBT communities, emphasizing the everyday lives of these Chicagoans as well as their activist struggles for equality and against homophobia and the fear of gender difference.
Special Distinction: Alignment of Site and Mission
The Natural History Museum of Utah was recognized for its suite of Exhibitions: Sky, Life, Land, First Peoples, Great Salt Lake, and Past Worlds. In November 2011 the museum opened its Rio Tinto Center, located on 13 acres along the shoreline of Lake Bonneville, with views of Salt Lake City, the Great Salt Lake, and the Oquirrh Mountains. The new building served as an opportunity to rethink the role of the Natural History museum and its exhibitions. These six permanent exhibitions provide a place-based visitor experience rooted in the natural phenomena of Utah’s unique landscapes and ecosystems and the science they inspire. Because the exhibits were designed in tandem with the building, the museum included carefully framed views of the city and natural spaces beyond the museum walls. The result interweaves immersive spaces, pathways, and experiences.
Twenty-Forth Annual Excellence in Exhibitions 2012
The Excellence in Exhibitions Competition recognizes exhibitions for overall excellence or for stretching the limits of exhibition content and design through innovation. Entries are peer reviewed based on criteria in seven major categories: audience awareness; content and education; curatorship and collections; evaluation; interpretation and communication; design and production; and human comfort and accessibility. Awards are sponsored by four of AAM's Professional Networks including the Committee on Audience Research and Evaluation (CARE), Curators Committee (CurCom), Education Committee (EdCom) and National Association of Museum Exhibition (NAME). Elizabeth Kunz Kollmann, the 2012 Excellence in Exhibitions Competition coordinator, said of this year’s entries, “I was really impressed with the 18 entries that we received for the Excellence in Exhibitions competition this year. Not only did they represent a broad range of topics from rock and roll music to folk art to state history, they also showed a commitment of these museums to exceptional design, addressing visitor needs, providing extraordinary educational opportunities, and tackling tough content.”
Overall Excellence: Detroit Institute of Arts, Through African Eyes: The European in African Art, 1500 to the Present
This temporary exhibition examined works of art created over 500 years that serve as a visual record of diverse, evolving relationships between Africans and Westerners. The core intent of the show was to present Africans’ perspectives on a range of topics, including pre-existing beliefs about whiteness, trade and settlement, slavery and colonization, assimilation and resistance, and contemporary economic, political, and cultural globalization. The Excellence in Exhibitions Competition chose this exhibition as its overall winner because of the project’s excellent integration of visitor research and evaluation, inventive design, and clear presentation of challenging content.
Special Distinction – Eloquent Presentation of Topic: Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center, Across the Wire: Voices from Heart Mountain
This permanent exhibition explores the stories of World War II internment camps in the United States. Exhibits and displays reveal how rights were denied to Japanese Americans during WWII. Visitors are prompted to think about the relevance of the Heart Mountain experience to current events and the debate about the balance between freedom and national security. The Excellence in Exhibitions Competition chose this exhibition for an award of special distinction because of its sensitive and eloquent presentation of a difficult topic.
Special Distinction – Innovative Reframing of Collections: Natural History Museum, Los Angeles County, Dinosaur Hall
This permanent exhibition brings science to life in ways that are relevant and interesting to audiences and highlights the latest discoveries and the process of scientific discovery about dinosaurs. The exhibition is organized around the major questions that drive scientific research on dinosaurs today such as: “What are dinosaurs?” “What was their world like?” “What were they like as living animals?” and “What happened to them?” The Excellence in Exhibitions Competition chose this exhibition for an award of special distinction because of its inventive and inspired framing of an often-told museum topic.
Special Distinction – Exemplary Inclusion of Community Voices: Oakland Museum of California, Coming to California
This permanent exhibition provides a history of California’s people from pre-contact Native cultures to today. The overall goal of the exhibition is to provide a new type of public space within the museum—an inclusive place of inquiry, reflection, and public conversation about the history of California, with room for ongoing contributions by the museum’s communities over time. The Excellence in Exhibitions Competition chose this exhibition for an award of special distinction because of its strong commitment to addressing community needs and including community voices.
Honorable Mention: The New York Public Library, Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam
This temporary exhibition highlighted the New York Public Library’s collection of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic materials with the goal of sharing information about the histories, connections, and differences between the three Abrahamic religions; fostering appreciation for the creation of these materials; and engaging diverse audiences. The Excellence in Exhibitions Competition chose this exhibition for an honorable mention award because of its topical significance, beautiful design, and inclusion of an interactive exhibit space.
Twenty-Second Annual Excellence in Exhibition Competition 2010
Sponsored by CARE, CurCom, EdCom, and NAME
Special Achievement in Cooperative Learning
Chicago Children’s Museum
Special Achievement in Community Engagement
Changing Places: From Black and White to Technicolor
Levine Museum of the New South
Overall Excellence Award
Dancing Shadows, Epic Tales: Wayang Kulit of Indonesia
Museum of International Folk Art
Overall Excellence Award
Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania
Twenty-First Annual Excellence in Exhibition Competition 2009
Excellence in Exhibition Design Award
Beautiful Science: Ideas that Changed the World
The Huntington Library, Art Collection, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, CA
Excellence in Exhibition Design Award
Bronx Zoo and the Wildlife Conservation Society Bronx, New York
Chicago History Museum, Chicago, IL
France New France: Birth of a French People in North America
Pointe-a-Calliere, Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History, Montreal, Canada
Twentieth Annual Excellence in Exhibition Competition 2008
RACE: Are we so different?
The Science Center of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN in partnership with the American Anthropological Association
The Mariner's Museum, Newport News, VA
Dare to Resist: Jewish Defiance in the Holocaust
Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, New York, NY
Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA
Past Award Winners
Plants Are Up to Something
The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens
Chicago History Museum
The Wonder Cabinet
Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose
Smithsonian National Zoological Park
The Dark Zone
Utah Museum of Natural History
JANE:The Diary of a Dinosaur
Burpee Museum of Natural History
KISS: When a kiss isn't just a kiss
The Contemporary Art Galleries: University of Connecticut
Montreal Love Stories: The Cultural Connection
Pointe-a-Calliere, Montreal Museum of Archeology and History
Chicago Historical Society
COURAGE: The Carolina Story That Changed America
Ours to Fight for: American Jews in the Second World War
Museum of Jewish Heritage
Hall of Ocean Life
The American Museum of Natural History
Industrial Strength Design: How Brooks Stevens Shaped Your World
Milwaukee Art Museum
Playas…Gems of the Plains
Northwest Texas Museum Association
Heroes of the Sky: Adventures in Early Flight, 1903-1939
The Henry Ford
Alice's Wonderland: A Most Curious Adventure
Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose
Invention at Play
National Museum of American History
Jellies: Living Art
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Joseph McCarthy: A Modern Tragedy
Outagamie County Historical Society
On Stage and Behind the Scenes
Indianapolis Children's Museum
Amazon Rising: Seasons of the River
Drumbeats: A Percussion Experience
Indianapolis Children's Museum
Congo Gorilla Forest
Royal Ontario Museum
Museum of Opthamology History Library, San Francisco
Denver Museum of Natural History