Excellence In Exhibition Competition
by American Alliance of Museums
The Excellence in Exhibition Competition, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, recognizes exhibitions for overall excellence or for stretching the limits of exhibition content and design through innovation.
This year’s entries were peer reviewed, based on the newly updated Alliance Standards for Museum Exhibitions and Indicators of Excellence. Awards are sponsored by four of the Alliance’s Professional Networks: the Committee on Audience Research and Evaluation (CARE), Curators Committee (CurCom), Education Professional Network (EdCom) and National Association for Museum Exhibition (NAME).
“I am impressed with how this year’s winners seamlessly combined sometimes controversial and often personally relevant content with designs that were beautiful and effective,” says Elizabeth Kunz Kollmann, the 2013 competition coordinator.
SPECIAL DISTINCTION— AESTHETICS AND MATERIALS
“Light: Installations by Bruce Munro”
Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA
This temporary exhibition displayed eight light installations by U.K. artist Bruce Munro. 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. Judges chose this exhibition for an award because of its innovative use of everyday materials to create an aesthetically beautiful exhibition experience that expanded the role of public gardens as a place to not only view nature but also appreciate art.
SPECIAL DISTINCTION— MESSAGING AND ENGAGEMENT
“Health Happens Here”
The California Museum, Sacramento
This permanent exhibition was developed for California elementary students and
policymakers to change attitudes and assumptions about health. Instead of focusing on individual behavior, this exhibition takes a community-based perspective by showing that health “happens” in neighborhoods and schools and by promoting interactivity, personal connections and empowerment. Judges chose this exhibition because it tackled an old topic in a new way that sought not just to teach but to empower visitors.
SPECIAL DISTINCTION—COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
“Out in Chicago”
Chicago History Museum
This temporary exhibition explored the vibrant lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) history of Chicago from the 1850s through today. 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. Judges chose this exhibition for an award because of its continued commitment to engaging the community.
SPECIAL DISTINCTION—ALIGNMENT OF SITE AND MISSION
Suite of Exhibitions: “Sky,” “Life,” “Land,” “First Peoples,” “Great Salt Lake” and “Past Worlds”
Natural History Museum of Utah, Salt Lake City
These six permanent exhibitions provide a place-based visitor experience rooted in the natural phenomena and science of Utah’s unique landscapes and ecosystems. Although each exhibition has different content, they are all connected spatially and thematically through common topics about energy flow, evolution, ecology and biodiversity. Judges chose these exhibitions for an award because they were especially effective in using exterior and interior space to achieve their mission.