The Georgia Museum of Art received eight different awards from the Southeastern Museums Conference for its outstanding work. The awards were announced at SEMC’s annual meeting held Nov. 13-15, 2023, in Louisville, Kentucky.
Tricia Miller, the museum’s deputy director of collections and exhibitions and head registrar, received SEMC’s Museum Leadership Award in recognition of her many years of service and generosity to the field. Initiated in 1994, this award recognizes mid-career museum professionals who have shown significant advancement within the profession by leadership in museum activities at his or her institution, within the museum profession as a whole, and especially in the Southeast region. Award eligibility requires 10 years of experience as a museum staff member and a minimum of five years immediate past tenure with a museum in the SEMC region. Miller has worked at the museum for 25 years.
Annelies Mondi, senior adviser to the director at the Georgia Museum of Art, wrote, in one of Miller’s nominations, “In addition to her regular duties of providing oversight for her department, managing the logistics for countless exhibitions, coordinating the accessioning of hundreds of objects a year, Ms. Miller has led training sessions and workshops for interns at the museum, spoken to various university classes in museum studies and has moderated or participated on panels for many sessions at professional conferences such as SEMC. Her commitment to the future of the museum field is evident. It is her ability to balance her responsibilities while guiding others towards a common goal that makes her particularly deserving of the leadership award.”
The museum also received awards in three competitions. The exhibition “Art is a form of freedom” received a silver award in the Excellence in Exhibitions Competition (budget less than $10,000). The exhibition resulted from a collaborative project that brought works of art from the museum’s collection into classrooms at Whitworth Women’s Facility, a prison in north Georgia. The incarcerated women there selected the works in the exhibition and wrote prose and poetry in response to them. Callan Steinmann, the museum’s curator of education, organized the exhibition with the assistance of Caroline Young, lecturer of English at the University of Georgia and site director for the Common Good Atlanta program at Whitworth Women’s Facility. Common Good Atlanta, founded in 2010, provides people who are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated with access to higher education by connecting Georgia’s colleges and professors with Georgia’s prison classrooms. Young’s UGA service-learning English course “Writing for Social Justice: The Prison Writing Project” linked the museum to the incarcerated students in classes at Whitworth Women’s Facility.
The exhibition competition recognizes exhibitions for overall excellence or for stretching the limits of content and design through innovation. Winning entries were well-designed exhibitions of merit with educational value and demonstrated, respectful treatment of objects. Recipients of the awards were judged by an appointed jury of museum professionals across the region who specialize in curatorial studies and exhibition design.
In the Publication Design Competition, the museum received a gold award in the campaigns category for its 75th anniversary campaign; a bronze in magazines and newsletters for Facet, its quarterly newsletter; a silver for gallery guides for “Jane Manus, Undaunted”; and a bronze for gallery guides for its “Longleaf Lines” coloring book (illustrated by Katie Mulligan). Noelle Shuck, the museum’s graphic designer, designed all four award winners.
Museum publications can play a vital role in an institution’s educational mission, documenting exhibitions and collections through high-quality design and production and showcasing the depth of scholarship. Expectations and standards were exceptionally high for this year’s applicants. The 2023 SEMC Publication Design Competition received a record-breaking number of applications from a wide variety of museums across the Southeast.
The SEMC Publication Design Competition recognizes and rewards excellence in graphic design in Southeastern museum publications. The competition encourages communication, effective design, creativity and pride in work, and recognition of institutional image and identity. Recipients of the awards were judged by an appointed jury of museum professionals across the region who specialize in graphic design.
Finally, in the Technology Competition, the museum received a gold award for virtual media (budget under $1,000) for its Instagram Stories trivia feature and a silver in the same category for its Museum Madness campaign, in association with the museum’s 75th anniversary. The museum’s communications team created and designed both features.
As technology continues to gain importance throughout the museum field, expectations and standards were exceptionally high for this year’s applicants. The SEMC Technology Competition received a record number of applications from a wide variety of museums across the Southeast. Winning entries were expected to demonstrate innovation, effective design, accessibility, creativity and recognition of institutional identity. Recipients of the awards were judged by an appointed jury of museum professionals across the region who specialize in the fields of digital media and technology.
All of the award winners were highlighted at the SEMC annual meeting and will be featured in the fall 2023 edition of “Inside SEMC,” published three times a year.
SEMC is a nonprofit membership association of museums, museum staff, independent professionals and corporate professionals focused on the Southeastern United States. It works to provide educational and professional development opportunities, improve the interchange of ideas and information and encourage respect and collegiality. For more information about the Southeastern Museums Conference, visit https://www.semcdirect.net/.