Celebrate excellence in our departmental museum
By Johnson County Museum
Last month, members of the Johnson County Museum team traveled to Little Rock, Ark., To accept the American Association for State and Local History Award of Excellence. The national award celebrates the museum’s response to the pandemic, which included: a fundraising initiative; a temporary exhibit designed to inspire and embolden the community; a community art exhibit and public programming supported by partners to help unravel the pandemic and address mental health needs; and special educational programs to provide safe and stimulating spaces for daycares, summer camps and virtual learning centers, as well as educational guides to help older students better understand the historical context of the pandemic and social justice movements.
“As a county museum, we are deeply committed to our community,” said museum director Mary McMurray. “When the pandemic disrupted our lives so much, the museum team used a question to focus our work: ‘How can we serve better? We are honored that our dedication to community service has earned the AASLH National Award.
While the community inspired the work, a multitude of partners have helped the museum in its response to the pandemic. “We owe a big thank you to our colleagues and partners without whom we would not have won this prestigious award,” said McMurray. She credited the leadership of the Johnson County Park and Recreation District (JCPRD), the JCPRD Fine Arts Department, colleagues who helped design the exhibit, the Johnson County Arts Council, the Johnson County Museum and Johnson County Mental Health Center for contributing to the museum award. – winning answer.
The AASLH Awards Program was started in 1945 to establish and encourage standards of excellence in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of national and local history across the United States. The History Leadership Awards not only honor significant achievements in the field of national and local history, but also bring public recognition of the opportunities for small and large organizations, institutions and programs to contribute in this field. This year, AASLH is proud to present 39 national awards honoring individuals, projects, exhibitions and publications. The winners represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of national and local history.
Although the award focused on efforts in 2020, the museum’s response to the pandemic continues. Visitors to the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center can view “Rising to the Challenge: Suburban Strength in Difficult Times,” a centerpiece of the museum’s response to the pandemic, for free in the Creative Commons area. Those who wish to make history can participate in the Collecting Covid-19 initiative by completing the online questionnaire at JCPRD.com/collecte. While virtual learning centers have disappeared, educational and enrichment opportunities in field trips, after-school programs, and summer camps are staples of museum operations. Finally, the museum will continue to keep service to the community at the heart of all of its efforts.
The Johnson County Museum presents the unique stories of Johnson County through collections, programs and exhibits using its iconic locations. The museum features an iconic exhibit, “Becoming Johnson County; »KidScape, a fully immersive and interactive historical experience that encourages children to explore different time periods and communities; a temporary gallery, which currently displays furniture and furnishings by mid-century designer Paul McCobb; and “Meeting the challenge: the strength of the suburbs in difficult times”. Learners of all ages are encouraged to visit the museum to learn more about Johnson County and the history of the suburbs.