NIU Museum Studies Program continues to win accolades from Illinois Association of Museums

A work by painter and sculptor Michael Ferris Jr.NIU’s Interdisciplinary Certificate of Graduate Study in Museum Studies continues to receive critical acclaim from the Illinois Association of Museums (IAM).

The Jack Olson Gallery earned an IAM Superior Achievement Award in the exhibitions category for “Inked: Tattoo Imagery in Contemporary Art.”

The exhibition was co-curated by Peter Van Ael, Olson Gallery/Museum Studies program coordinator, and Agnes Ma, Museum Studies alumna (Fall ’11) and Olson Gallery graduate assistant.

The exhibition was accompanied by a richly illustrated exhibition catalog containing interviews the curators conducted with the artists. The exhibition catalog earned an IAM Award of Excellence in the popular publications category.

Meanwhile, the NIU Art Museum is the recipient of an IAM Award of Excellence in the exhibitions category for “The Golden Age of Wordless Novels and Artist Illustrated Books: 1917-1951.” It is the fifth consecutive year that the Museum Studies/NIU Art Museum exhibition earns an IAM Award.

“Golden Age” was the sixth in an ongoing annual collaborative effort between the NIU Art Museum, the NIU Museum Studies Program and Van Ael’s ART 656 Museum Exhibitions and Interpretation class.

A collaborative, inter-college effort with community outreach, lenders to the exhibition included the NIU Rare Books Collection; School of Art professor emeritus Jerry Meyer; Museum Studies student Philip Krepel; and Van Ael.

Winners of the IAM Award of Excellence present work of excellent quality that uses available resources well, is creative and meets professional standards. The IAM Superior Achievement Award recognizes work that is a model for the profession and reaches a greater audience than is normally served by the nominating institution.

David Becker, IAM president; Agnes Ma; Peter Van Ael, coordinator, Jack Olson Gallery; Donna Sack, IAM executive director.

David Becker, IAM president; Agnes Ma; Peter Van Ael, coordinator, Jack Olson Gallery; Donna Sack, IAM executive director.

Members of the awards committee indicated they were duly impressed with the design of both exhibitions.

Judges noted the creative use of digital picture frames in “The Golden Age of Wordless Novels and Artist Illustrated Books: 1917-1951” and commented on the strong planning and collaborative effort securing artifacts for “Inked: Tattoo Imagery in Contemporary Art.”

Committee members also were pleased with the attention given to exhibition evaluation in both instances, noting it as strong for “The Golden Age” and excellent for “Inked.” The exhibition design and installation afforded museum studies students valuable hands-on experience.

Finally, the committee noted that the exhibition catalog for “Inked” complemented the exhibition well and that the interviews were interesting to read.

IAM is the independent, non-profit, statewide organization of museums and historical societies. Through its awards, the association celebrates and draws attention to the highest accomplishments within the museum profession in the state of Illinois. The honors were announced Friday, Sept. 21, at the IAM Annual Conference in Collinsville during the awards luncheon.

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