On Thursday, Sept. 29, the Northern Illinois University Art Museum’s Assistant Director and Curator Peter Olson accepted a competitive Illinois Association of Museums (IAM) Award of Excellence that recognizes museums in the state that exemplify professional best practices and standards in the field of museum curation at the professional organization’s annual conference.
Olson accepted the award for last fall’s Embarrassment of Riches exhibition of six Midwest artists exploring themes of environmental sustainability and artistic practice that he curated. The exhibition was part of NIU Art Museum’s series examining contemporary artists’ exploration of relevant social issues in today’s world through the methods of visual arts media. The work on display represented the various artists’ perspectives on humanity’s complicated relationship with the earth and environment.
Awards are peer-reviewed by a panel of representatives from other professional museums within the state. The reviewers remarked that the Art Museum’s exhibition was a “very relevant topic [with] innovative execution,” and commended the associated programming, community engagement and collaboration with various university departments including the Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability and Energy.
“The recognition from IAM for our original exploration of this intersection between visual arts and environmental sciences reaffirms our goal to illustrate the ability of the visual arts to heighten and bring attention to the current social issues we face today. Many artists view the world through a lens of creativity, playfulness, wit and irony challenging us to action,” said Olson.
The NIU Art Museum previously won exhibition Awards of Excellence for other staff-curated thematic exhibitions; in 2015 for Local Visions: Selections from Area Collections, in 2014 for On Watching and Being Seen and in 2013 for Vice and Virtue. Members of the art museum’s staff have also previously served on the IAM’s award review panel.