Awards of Merit

New York’s museums and heritage organizations are many and diverse. These institutions collect and interpret art, history, natural history, science, technology and culture. These valuable organizations provide opportunities for inquiry, engagement, inspiration and education about the state’s cultural and natural heritage.

The Awards of Merit program acknowledges outstanding programs and individuals who have made the state's museum community richer and more relevant. They reward the innovative efforts of staff and volunteers and they provide encouragement for the development of new and remarkable projects. Nominations Nominationscontributions made in 2015.

The awards will be presented on Monday, April 18, 2016 at the breakfast of the Annual Conference in Lake Placid.


Click here to see the winners of the 2014 Awards of Merit and Certificates of Commendation


Do you have any questions about the Museum Association of New York Award of Merit program, eligibility, judging criteria or nomination procedures? Please call 518-273-3400 or email with any questions that you may have.


Nominations for awards may be submitted in the following categories (for yourself or others): 

  • The Rising Star Award: Awarded to a museum professional, currently employed in an institution, aged 25-35, for his/her creativity and ability to tackle institutional/programmatic challenges in innovative and inspiring ways.
  • Anne Ackerson Innovation in Leadership Award: This award recognizes board and staff leaders through creatively and effectively bringing their organization and its people through a significant challenge or opportunity. 
  • Innovation in Collection Access: Collections are the vital backbone of museums and heritage organizations forming the basis for new research, programs, exhibitions, publications and web content. Nominations for this category are exemplary projects that concern broadening intellectual or physical access to collections; outstanding or cutting-edge preservation, cataloging or care.
  • Innovation in Interpretation: This award category recognizes outstanding interpretive methods that forge emotional and intellectual connections between audiences and the meanings inherent in objects, artifacts, landscapes and place.
  • Engaging Communities Award: A critical element of any museum or heritage organization is the way that it interacts with its community. Nominations for this category should highlight efforts that engage your community or create new audiences for your organization. These projects could include interpretative exhibitions, lecture series, educational or public programs, focus groups, strategic planning, evaluation or other community engagement effort.
  • Excellent "Failure" Award: Recognizing that innovation stems from taking risks and that risks often lead to unpredicted results this award pays tribute to those that have made the most of such 'failures'. Nominations should indicate the initial goal of the endeavor, what went awry and highlight what was learned/how the organization has benefited as a result.
  • Individual Achievement Award: Any successful organization has the support of a devoted team of staff and volunteers. Nominations in this category should be for those people who have played pertinent roles in moving their organizations forward over a sustained period. Nominations can by for an individual or a team of museum staff and/or volunteers.  



Click here to read the Click here to read the Award Criteria.

Click here to read more about this year's award winners!