Awards of Merit


The Awards of Merit program recognizes outstanding programs and individuals who have enriched our museum community. They reward staff and volunteers for innovative efforts and encourage the development of new and remarkable projects. Any organization or individual can nominate an organization, person(s), or project completed in 2017 at a museum, heritage, or cultural organization in the state of New York. Nomination of oneself or one’s organization is permissible and encouraged. 

The Awards of Merit Program is organized into seven categories.

Anne Ackerson Innovation in Leadership Award
This award recognizes a board member or senior level staff leader that saw their organization through a critical challenge or significant opportunity in a creative, effective manner.

The Rising Star Award
This award recognizes a museum professional who is under the age of 35 and currently employed at a cultural institution. The Rising Star displays creative thinking and inspires institutional change.

Individual Achievement
This award recognizes devoted staff and volunteers who are instrumental in moving their organizations forward over a sustained period. Nominations are accepted for individuals or a team of staff and/or volunteers.

Persistence Award
This award rewards those who take risks and rise to the challenge of turning an unexpected challenge into an asset. Nominations should indicate the initial goal, what changed, and the resulting organization benefit.

Innovation in Collections Access Award

This award recognizes exemplary projects (physical and/or digital) that broaden access, preserve, and catalog museum and heritage organization collections.

Engaging Communities Award
This award recognizes an organization that uses creative methods to engage its community and build new audiences. Projects can include collections interpretation, exhibitions, lecture series, educational or public programs, focus groups, strategic planning, or other community engagement effort.


Excellence in Design Award Sponsored by NAME
This award recognizes an exhibition (physical and/or digital) produced by a cultural institution that articulates content through engaging design and creates a satisfying visitor experience. Supporting materials must include installation documentation and audience feedback.


For the Innovation in Collections Access and the Engaging Communities Awards, judges will consider and make awards in 4 categories that correspond to institutional annual budget size:

1) All Volunteer - $100,000 .    2) $100,000 - $500,000      3) $500,000 - $1,000,000      4) over $1,000,000


Awards of Merit are given to institutions or individuals whose work represents outstanding contributions in their category. Nominations will be reviewed on their own merit and will be evaluated on the basis of relevancy, significance to the field, overall quality, and their unique or innovative character. Judges will consider the ways in which a project demonstrates the professional growth of an organization or individual, how closely it adheres to museum standards and best practices, level of risk and return on investment, and how the project enhanced the organization’s mission.

Completed Nominations Include:

  • Completed Awards of Merit Nomination Form
  • Nominated institution’s mission statement and brief description of organization.
  • If you are nominating someone for an individual award, include brief bio.
  • 50 words or less description of project or individual achievement for promotional materials.
  • Project documentation must be submitted as attached pdfs and may include photographs, images, audio or video, press releases, newspaper articles, reviews, or other promotional materials. For exhibition catalogs or other museum publications, please mail a hard copy to the MANY Office at 265 River Street, Troy, NY 12180.
  • 500-750 word description that addresses the following as relevant to the category:
  1. How the project or person’s work benefited the public.
  2. How the project enhanced the professionalism of the organization/individual.
  3. How the project improved the organization’s ability to serve the public.
  4. How project an outstanding example in its category.
  5. How is this organization/person best utilizing their resources?
  6. How is this project relevant? Is it significant, innovative?
  7. How was this project/person ambitious?

To submit a nomination, email the Nomination Form to: by 5 PM on November 27, 2017. Award winners will be notified by January 5, 2018. 

Awards of Merit Nomination Form