Institutional Award of Excellence: Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block
Since the launch of its Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access Plan (IDEA Plan) in July 2020, the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block has demonstrated a commitment to the principles of relevancy, community, respect, and multivocality. The museum has now completed the first phase of the plan, including volunteer and staff training, the development of a plan to diversify its collections, increased Spanish-language communications, and the creation of community-based exhibitions. Indigenous Arts, which opened in March 2021, was organized by indigenous community curators, while the Art of the American West permanent gallery has been transformed through the inclusion of both a broader range of artists, and interpretation.
Institutional Award of Excellence: Arizona Jewish Historical Society
With the mission of inspiring visitors to learn from the Holocaust, to become upstanders, and to work toward a world without hatred and bigotry, the Arizona Jewish Historical Society has gone beyond its physical structure of the historic synagogue and church that houses its Cutler-Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center to serve a national and international audience with its broad-based inclusive programming.
In addition to museum exhibits and education events, the Arizona Jewish Historical Society houses a unique community archive, with over 50,000 photographs, documents, and artifacts pertaining to Jewish history and the collection also includes Holocaust artifacts, connected to local Arizonians, as well over 300 oral and video histories of local residents.
When the pandemic struck the Historical Society provided a textbook definition of “pivoting to digital”, with everything from online exhibits to virtual book club meetings. This year’s seminar series, Surviving Humanity (Reframing America), stands as but a single example of the Historical Society’s approach, providing a diversity of presenters in age, culture and experience and including the stories not only Holocaust survivors, but of other victims of atrocities around the world including the Rwandan genocide, Japanese-American internment camps and survivors of 9/11.
Individual Award of Excellence: Stephanie Joyner
Community Support Award: Cathy Adam
Stephanie Joyner, Executive Director of the Pinal County Historical Museum Is the recipient of the Individual Award of Excellence, given to an individual who has exhibited leadership qualities by achieving excellence in his or her work in a museum, including in the areas of collection, preservation, research, interpretation, and education.
Cathy Adam, Board President of the Pinal County Historical Museum, is the recipient of the Community Support Award, given to an individual or organization whose activities have eminently enhanced the standing or image of Arizona's museums or have otherwise contributed to their growth.
Working together, Stephanie and Cathy have transformed the Pinal County Historical Museum.
A native of Virginia, Stephanie came to Arizona to study at Northern Arizona University, receiving her master’s in Applied Anthropology in 2016. Cathy’s background was in business world as a consultant in corporate strategy. Both of them started in their respective positions at the Museum in 2018. As one of the first steps in their partnership, they took the American Association for State and Local History’s Leadership in History course together the following year, and have never looked back.
Beginning with an IT conversion that provided the Museum with new equipment and software, they went on to develop collections policies, updating their mission and vision statements and creating a new DEAI statement, and re-invigorating their volunteer program, as well as undertaking a CAP survey in 2020. Pursuing multiple avenues of funding during the pandemic they received both CARES and ARPA funds distributed through Arizona Humanities and were one of only three cultural organizations in Pinal County to stay open. During that time they also developed a robust virtual programming output, Zooming Arizona Humanities programs, and creating their own, including YouTube and TicToc offerings.
Roger Lidman Distinguished Service Award: Elaine Hughes
Elaine Hughes began her museum career at the Museum of Northern Arizona in 1983, as a contract worker on archaeological projects. After a stint as Anthropology Collections Manager in 1986 through 1992, she then worked at the Denver Museum of Natural History and the Arizona State Museum. Returning to the Museum of Northern Arizona as Collections Manager in 2001, she was almost immediately faced with the fallout of a badly misguided deaccessioning action by the Board.
Elaine not only braved that storm, but when on to provide leadership and inspiration to her staff and colleagues, building a fully professionalized Collections Management Department, retiring this past March as Collections Director. During her tenure she has secured more than 50 different grants for the preservation of the Museum’s collections, as well as overseeing the development and opening of the LEED Certified Easton Collections Center and the move of MNA collections from old storage into this new state-of-the-art facility. She has also fostered and strengthened her museum’s relationships with federal agencies and tribes, especially the National Park Service, the Coconino National Forest, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
She is a longtime member of the Museum Association of Arizona, serving as Board Vice President and Treasurer. Several members of her staff, including Amber King and Tony Thibodeau, have been inspired to follow in her footsteps and have also been members of the MAA Board. Elaine has graciously shared her experiences, both good and bad, in multiple conference settings, and served as host of a joint MAA-Western Region Registrars Committee symposium.