MAAM announces 2023 Annual Meeting Award Winners

Wilmington, DE– The Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums (MAAM) is pleased to announce the 2023 award recipients, honoring excellence in the museum field. The award ceremony will take place as part of the Association’s upcoming Annual Meeting at the Hotel DuPont in Wilmington, DE from October 10-12, 2023. The theme of the conference is “Authentic Voice/Authentic Experience” and sessions will focus on how museums can become more equitable and tell a full, complete and inclusive history of our country. MAAM is honored to recognize these leaders in the field as the organization looks forward to a period of renewed growth and positive change in the region’s museum landscape. 

The 2023 Awards Ceremony will feature the inaugural presentation of the Emerging Professional Award, issued in recognition of an early-career museum professional making significant contributions to the field. This year’s recipient is Dalena Collins, who is currently working on her Master of Arts in Public History at Duquesne University and is employed at The Frick Pittsburgh as the Coordinator of Learning and Visitor Experiences. She has a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs from Northern Arizona University, with a double minor in History and Chinese. Her colleagues noted that Collins is a strong voice for access and accessibility and emphasizes the stories of real people in her tours.

“Ms. Collins has demonstrated a deep commitment to ensuring multifaceted, complex, underexamined, and often considered “difficult” histories are presented sensitively, yet explored fully, to and with public audiences,” says Stephanie Gray, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of History of Duquesne University. “She understands that upending long-held traditional and comforting narratives that Americans tell themselves about their pasts is a challenge, but she truly believes that fuller, more inclusive, more complicated interpretations that allow for self-reflection are important to civic health.”

The ceremony will also include the inaugural presentation of the Making an Impact Award, recognizing museums and other institutions for developing either a program, exhibition, or special project that displays responsiveness and resourcefulness and which has resulted in a positive impact on their communities. The recipient of this award is Nemours Estate for their work with children, families, and hospital associates of Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware with whom they share a campus and legacy.

During COVID, Nemours Estate collaborated with the hospital to create an “open air” entrance so hospital visitors could safely and easily walk on and off its grounds and visit with patients. Additionally,  in cooperation with Nemours Children’s Hospital Department of Weight Management, Nemours Estate designed, installed, and maintained a large container garden in an otherwise underutilized concrete courtyard, using containers made of various repurposed materials to grow fruits and vegetables. This effort evolved into the “Can Grow Garden,” which now features raised and accessible planting beds outside of the hospital’s cafeteria. Produce from the Can Grow Garden is given away to patients and families of the hospital, and the garden space is used for interpretation, activities, and special events. 

“I have seen personally how much of a positive impact the Nemours Estate gardeners make every day by maintaining the vegetable garden for our hospital community,” says Sara Narimanian, Child Life Program Coordinator, Nemours Children’s Health, Delaware Valley. “I have also seen their efforts to help combat food insecurity through the tomato handout program and love to see the positive interactions that the Estate staff get to have with patients…the Estate is always there for the hospital as a partner.”

Additionally, Nemours Estate has made garden areas on the Estate available to hospital patients and families for visits, support group meetings, retreats, and summer camps.

Finally, the Katherine Coffey Award is given each year by MAAM in recognition of distinguished achievement in the museum field. Awarded annually since 1972, the presentation of the Coffey award is one of the pinnacle events of the Annual Meeting. The 2023 recipient, Philip Yenawine, received his Master of Arts degree from Goddard College. He became the founding director of the Aspen Center for the Visual Arts, (now the Aspen Art Museum) and ran programs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Museum of Modern Art; and South Street Seaport Museum.

Throughout his career, Yenawine’s work has been focused on connecting people to art and developing visual literacy skills. His collaborative work with colleagues (especially developmental psychologist Abigail Housen) and rigorous approach to teaching the art of careful looking eventually became globally known as Visual Thinking Strategies. Today, museum educators who talk about developing observational skills, evidence-based learning, and careful listening and empathy, can all trace these educational approaches to Yenawine’s rigorous methodology.

Deborah Schwartz, MAAM board member and Yenawine’s nominator, says of him, “Philip has inspired thousands of educators far and wide with his brilliant teaching, and his innovative thinking about the power of art and artifacts and the importance of learning in museums.”

Yenawine is one of the founders of Visual AIDS, and the originator of the “Day Without Art” event that became a national movement to bring heightened awareness to the terrible losses of artists and art professionals as the AIDS pandemic swept across the world in the 1980s. He is also the co-founder of Art Matters, a foundation supporting contemporary artists. He continues to teach and is currently the Creative Director of the Watershed Collaborative, a nonprofit educational organization that offers online training in Visual Thinking Strategies. He is also a founder of the Hailey Group, an organization that offers its clients transformative experiences in looking deeply at great works of art with the work of developing equitable learning culture within the workplace.

About the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums

The Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums (MAAM) is a not-for-profit membership organization founded in 1947 to represent museum professionals, organizations, institutions, museum service providers, and industry partners in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. MAAM provides a forum to enhance the image of museums and educate individuals on an array of field-specific study and programs.

MAAM’s sparks dialogue among museum and industry professionals to build sustainable and inclusive museums for their communities. MAAM brings together the resources of the Mid-Atlantic’s museum community and makes them available to its members through conferences, symposia, and workshops. MAAM’s programming evolves with the needs of the field, with two major events each year. MAAM’s Annual Meeting is a member-driven forum to share ideas and allow for opportunities to network and connect. MAAM’s Building Museums ™ Symposium is unique among museum conferences in offering programming tailored for those who plan or implement new construction, renovation, or expansion projects for museums. 

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