#NCMC2023 Awards Press Release

15 Jun 2023 10:54 PM | Anonymous

For Immediate Release 

June 15, 2023 

North Carolina Museums Council (NCMC) Recently Announced Award Recipients 

The North Carolina Museums Council recently recognized a slate of award winners. The 2023 winners were nominated for work completed in 2022 then selected through a process of peer review. This awards program provides a vehicle for promoting excellence in North Carolina museums and related institutions. Several awards were bestowed this year in the following categories: Special Recognition, Professional Service, Excellence, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEAI), Dennis T. Lawson Memorial Award and William T. Alderson Lifetime Achievement as well as the Student Memorial Award and Internship Award.

Awards of Special Recognition 

This award honors an individual, group, or business affiliated with a museum in North Carolina who has demonstrated significant interest and support in the programs, goals, and policies or made significant contributions of time, money, or ideas to a museum in the state. 

Our recipient this year is Kadie Dean, Head Docent, Blowing Rock Art and History Museum, nominated by James Pearson, Executive Director of the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum.  James explained that his small museum has a big impact on the local economy as most of their seasonal visitors are tourists who want to learn a bit about their vacation spot. As the head docent, Kadie is at the forefront of being a motivated extension of the museum’s mission of preserving and sharing southern Appalachian culture. 

Professional Service Award 

The Professional Service Award is presented to an individual currently employed at a North Carolina museum, distinguished in the museum field and/or and who has professionally advanced the role of museums or that of the North Carolina Museums Council. 

This award is presented to Scott Warren, Site Manager of the President James K. Polk Birthplace State Historic Site, a long-time, dedicated member of the North Carolina Museums Council. In addition to serving on the North Carolina Museums Council Board in various capacities, including President (‘19-’21), Scott works with other museum support organizations such as the Southeastern Museums Conference (SEMC) programs committee, Charlotte Museum’s Outstanding Network (CMON), and the Coalition of State Museum Association (COSMA).  Scott is also dedicated to advancing the best museum practices in inclusive interpretation and outreach, working with Mecklenburg County on the Latta Place Reimaging Committee and hosting events such as the “Slave Dwelling Project.” Through his work with NCMC, Scott has taken the lead on museum advocacy, representing North Carolina Museums Council at county commissioner meetings, the capitol building in Raleigh, and in the halls of Congress in Washington DC.  His passion for making museums better for visitors and staff and his dedication to present inclusive history in innovative ways, makes Scott an outstanding leader in our field, as well as a supportive colleague and friend to so many of us.  Congratulations and thank you for all you do for North Carolina museums and museum professionals!

Award of Excellence 

The Award of Excellence is intended to honor exhibits, publications, or programs that exemplify excellence in the museum field. This competition showcases the best in our profession and in doing so promotes excellence and professionalism across the state. Nominations for the Awards of Excellence must have been completed during the 2022 calendar year. This year, three Awards of Excellence were presented:

The North Carolina Museum of History for their “Handling Hard History” program as part of the 2022 MuseumNext Summit. In this program, Camille shared her professional knowledge and best practices and applied them to the everchanging museum field to a world-wide audience of over 2,700 people! Camille used artifacts from the Museum’s collections to explain how NC tells hard stories using the artifacts that witnessed tragedy, intimidation, fear, or other hard chapters from our state’s history. 

The Gaston County Museum of Art and History for their “Into the Darkroom, Photography as History and Artform'' exhibit about photography that featured a fully bi-lingual component of exhibit copy, labels, and marketing materials. The exhibit was developed to incorporate the full story of photography, including the art and science of developing photographs, complete with a darkroom.

The Greenville Museum of Art for their “Growing up Queer in the South” exhibit, guest curated with Parks McAllister, who worked with the museum on a national call for artists and selection of pieces for the exhibition. The exhibit featured art in a variety of mediums created by LBGTQ+ artists to tell their stories of growing up in the South, not just North Carolina. An informative and moving exhibition, it connected people to the artists and to each other. This exhibit was the first time for many of the participating artists to exhibit work in a museum. The exhibition served the Greenville Museum of Arts’ vision to create equitable opportunities for artists with diverse lived experiences.

Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEAI) Award 

The Board continues its dedication to the principles of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI) across the museum field. Created in 2020, this award seeks to celebrate organizations and programs advancing the museum field in these areas, both internally through workplace culture and programs and externally through engagement with museum audiences and communities. 

This year’s DEAI Award goes to The Gaston County Museum of Art & History. This winner exemplifies all that museums can do to be more inclusive to reach a diverse audience with programs. The museum’s staff noticed increased attendance by Spanish speaking residents at a Day of the Dead event and decided to embark on a quest to be more inclusive of their Latino residents. As a result, the museum has seen a marked increase in Spanish speaking visitors, especially to exhibits and programs that feature dual-language options. The museum has made LatinX inclusivity a priority in the coming years, using Spanish-language considerations in grant initiatives, programs, and future exhibits. One notable component of their inclusivity plans is the development of a Community Panel featuring Spanish-speaking volunteers, who have provided advice, encouragement and constructive criticism for this new initiative. 

Dennis T. Lawson Memorial Award 

This award honors deceased members and supporters of the museum profession in North Carolina. The award was created in 1987 in honor of Dennis T. Lawson.

Our recipient this year is James “Jim” Gordon Warren of the Carolina Raptor Center, nominated by Karl McKinnon. Jim’s passion for education and outreach grew the Carolina Raptor Center, which served as a platform for his work to ensure science institutions across the state were supported and he knew that all museums are vital to the life and well being of North Carolina. Jim’s “going home” celebration at the Center was attended by over 1,000 visitors who wanted to be there to help send the “head owl” on his way. 

William T. Alderson Lifetime Achievement Award

This award was established to recognize retired museum professionals for a lifetime of service and to demonstrate NCMC's respect and admiration for the body of work these professionals accomplished in their careers. 

We want to congratulate Pam Meister, recently retired from the Mountain Heritage Center at Western Carolina University.  Pam has supported museums and museum professionals across the southeast and especially in North Carolina throughout her career. She has developed young professionals, uplifted small and mid-sized institutions, and been a mentor to museum colleagues of all ages across North Carolina and the southeast. Significant highlights of Pam’s career begin with her long association with SEMC, both as the Executive Director and as an instructor and administrator with the Jekyll Island Management Institute (JIMI). This latter role brought her into contact with many mid-level professionals from the southeast. Throughout her many years with JIMI, her paramount desire was to bring instructors and students together in formal and informal settings to allow for the best opportunities for collaboration and information sharing. Although recently retired from the Mountain Heritage Center, she has embarked upon an exhibit consultation on Jekyll Island, GA and slated to visit Homer, Alaska this year in her ongoing role as a consultant for the American Association of Museums (AAM).  Congratulations, Pam, on your retirement from your 9-5 job and best of luck as you pursue your interests and joys!

Student Memorial Award

Two students, Carly Collins and Victoria Hinshaw, received Student Memorial Awards to support their attendance at this year’s annual conference.

Carly Collins is pursuing her MA in public history at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Recently, Carly completed an internship with Caldwell Heritage Museum and she is currently working on the curation of the digital exhibit Climates of Inequality at the Levine Museum of the New South. In her application, Carly wrote that she wanted to attend NCMC to connect with and learn from other museum professionals who share her desire to engage with diverse audiences and bring historically silenced narratives to light.

Victoria Hinshaw is pursuing her MA in Museum Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and has a passion for southern music history. Her graduate assistantship is with the UNCG Special Collections and University Archives. In addition, she works as a research consultant for numerous authors and serves as Camp Director and Workshop Leader at Steve Earle’s Camp Copperhead. In her application, Victoria wrote that she was interested in attending the NCMC conference because she wanted to learn from museum professionals who share her passion for accessible histories.

Internship Award

The Wilkes Heritage Museum, directed by Jennifer H. Furr, received the internship award this year. The selected intern will be trained in PastPerfect, accession a collection, create a display, and develop a public program. 

The North Carolina Museums Council awards were presented at their annual conference held in Gastonia, NC in March 2023. In 2024, the annual conference will be hosted in Cherokee, NC. Award nominations will open later in this year. We encourage you all to consider the great work that your institutions undertake during this 2023 year and to remember to nominate that work and those people who make our museums great. Award recognition is a great vehicle for demonstrating the quality of a museum’s initiatives and accomplishments in grant proposals and other fundraising goals.  Please be on the lookout for information on how to submit a nomination for next year’s NCMC Awards program.


The North Carolina Museums Council (NCMC) is a 501(c)(3) serving institutions of all sizes within the State of North Carolina. Building Better Museums Together is reached through enhanced public education by improving the administrative, interpretive, and collections practices of all museums, including history, science, art and children’s institutions and related facilities in North Carolina. NCMC promotes goals of encouraging the continual improvement of standards and practices of all professionals in history, science, art and children’s institutions and related facilities across the state; stimulating public support and understanding for the work performed by those facilities; providing a forum in which Council members can exchange ideas, as well as foster cooperation and improved communication amongst themselves, as well as with the communities they serve; and promoting North Carolina museums throughout the state, the region, and the nation through its members and activities. 

For more information on awards, visit ncmuseums.org or contact Anna Chandler, Awards Chair at awards@ncmuseums.org 

The North Carolina Museums Council is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
PO Box 2603, Raleigh, NC 27602-2603
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