Arts & Humanities Campus News

Curator Shawnya Harris wins statewide awards

The Georgia Museum of Art’s Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Curator of African American and African Diasporic Art, Shawnya L. Harris, is shown with her awards from the Georgia Association of Museums. (Submitted photo)

More than 100 museum professionals recently descended upon Thomasville, Georgia, for the annual meeting of the Georgia Association of Museums (GAM).

This year, the Georgia Museum of Art’s Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Curator of African American and African Diasporic Art, Shawnya L. Harris, received the Museum Professional of the Year award, presented by GAM President Ephraim Rotter and award committee Co-chairs Melissa Swindell and Karin Dalton.

Harris has worked hard to achieve her scholarly prestige. In her dedication to promoting African American art and artists, she rarely puts herself forward, working behind the scenes to ensure every project she works on is comprehensive and detailed in all respects. Among those projects, her exhibition “Emma Amos: Color Odyssey” was a highlight, selected as one of the best exhibitions of 2021 by the New York Times. That exhibition also received notice from GAM as one of the best exhibitions of the year.

Alongside curatorial duties, Harris also engages in activities at the University of Georgia Lamar Dodd School of Art, where she mentors, teaches art and advises program majors while serving on thesis and programming committees. She was also selected as a Center for Curatorial Leadership Fellow.

“We are very pleased to present this award to a very deserving recipient,” said Rotter. “Our members represent a good cross section of the museums and cultural organizations in Georgia’s communities, large and small. We are happy to honor institutions, staff members, volunteers, patrons, exhibits and special projects that have excelled in providing inspiring programs and leadership.”

“The Georgia Museum of Art, its staff and board of advisors are proud indeed of these well-deserved honors for Shawnya Harris, whose hard work and great success with the exhibition of Emma Amos’ work is but one example of her commitment to scholarship on too-often neglected artists. She is truly representative of the highest ideals of community service and teaching that the award of museum professional of the year likewise recognizes,” said William U. Eiland, the Georgia Museum of Art’s director

The Georgia Association of Museums is a private, nonprofit statewide organization dedicated to encouraging growth and improving professional practices of museums and nonprofit galleries throughout the state. The annual conference is an opportunity for museum professionals, board members, volunteers and supporters to share information and build relationships among museums and galleries throughout the state. The conference is hosted by a different community each year. For more information on the Georgia Association of Museums, visit