North Carolina Museums Council Awards 


The North Carolina Museums Council (NCMC) is pleased to announce the winners of its 2024 awards program, presented at the 2024 Annual Meeting & Conference in Cherokee on April 8. Eight North Carolina museum leaders and institutions were honored for their outstanding achievements and precedent-setting programs and exhibitions.

The NCMC awards program provides a vehicle for promoting excellence in North Carolina museums and related institutions. Eight awards were presented for work completed in 2023, selected through a process of peer review: Award of Special Recognition; Dennis T. Lawson Memorial Award; William T. Alderson Lifetime Achievement Award; Professional Service Award; Award of Excellence; Emerging Museum Professional Award; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award; Summer Internship Award; Student Memorial Award, and the Diversity and Inclusion Fellowship.

2023 Awards of Special Recognition

The Award of Special Recognition 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. Recipient Nate McGaha, Executive Director of Arts North Carolina (Raleigh, NC) is heralded by his nominators as an “unwavering champion for arts advocacy in North Carolina.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, McGaha was dedicated to securing federal relief funding for arts organizations; recently, he led the North Carolina General Assembly to pass $2.5 million for the NC Arts Council Grassroots program and invest $1.5 million in the A+ Schools of NC program in the 2023-2025 budget. Through his advocacy, the General Assembly also passed the Arts Proficiency High School Diploma Endorsement, which encourages more high school students to pursue careers in the arts.

2023 Professional Service Award

The Professional Service Award is presented to an individual currently employed at a North Carolina museum who has distinguished themselves in the field, and/or has professionally advanced the role of museums or that of NCMC. Recipient Lindsey Lambert, Executive Director of the North Carolina Pottery Center (Seagrove, NC) is celebrated as a “committed supporter of North Carolina museums and museum professionals.” His dedication to the North Carolina Museums Council in various roles, including president and, most recently, “Techmeister,” has significantly contributed to the organization’s productivity and success. Nominees speak to Lambert’s thoughtfulness, knowledgeability, and commitment to developing the museum professionals of tomorrow.

2023 Award of Excellence

The Award of Excellence honors exhibits, publications, or programs that exemplify excellence in the museum field. This competition showcases the best in our profession and promotes excellence and professionalism across the state. High Point Museum (High Point, NC) received the award for its exhibition Fields & Feathers: Hunting at Deep River Lodge, 1894-1935. The exhibition featured photos and artifacts from Deep River Lodge, a High Point hunting lodge that had a significant economic and cultural impact on the town a century ago. Overall, the exhibition demonstrated the vast changes to the area’s built and natural environment and tied in with current local issues.

2023 Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion Award

The Diversity, Equity, Accessibility & Inclusion (DEAI) Award celebrates organizations and programs advancing the museum field in these areas, internally through workplace culture and programs and externally through engagement with museum audiences and communities. Awardee the North Carolina Museum of Artuses community partnerships across the state to “steward and share” its collection. With DEAI embedded into its programming and exhibitions, the organization provides free community days, bilingual labels, and programs with accessible accommodations. Its winning program, Mindful Museum: Virtual Sensory Journey Through Art is a popular virtual event designed for adults who are blind, have low vision, or have a learning need that would benefit from a sensory-style experience. The program recently received an award from the American Council for the Blind.

2023 Dennis T. Lawson Memorial Award

Created in 1987 in remembrance of the respected and admired former director of the High Point Museum and Historic Park, The Dennis T. Lawson Memorial Award honors deceased members and supporters of the museum profession in North Carolina. Honoree Chris Umfleet, former Site Manager at Historic Bath and reenactor, is remembered by nominees as a great lover of history, dedicated interpreter, and loyal friend. Committed to supporting and actively engaging in interpreting and teaching North Carolina’s history and culture, Umfleet is remembered and loved by his nominators and colleagues for his positive outlook and influence on Historic Bath. His wife, LeRae Umfleet, a longtime member of NCMC’s board of directors, accepted the award.

2023 William T. Alderson Lifetime Achievement Nomination Package

The William T. Alderson Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes a retired museum professional’s lifetime of service, demonstrating NCMC’s respect and admiration for the body of work they accomplished in their career. Winner Dusty Wescott, whose nearly 40 years of service include time at North Carolina State Historic Sites, North Carolina Museum of History, City of Raleigh Museum, and North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences, is celebrated by his nominators for his deep knowledge of the state’s cultural evolution and natural history and his readiness to share that knowledge with others. Additionally, he has actively participated in NCMC, including serving as president of the organization.

Student Awards

With a commitment to supporting and creating opportunities for tomorrow’s museum professionals, NCMC is pleased to have presented two student awards in 2024.

NCMC Student Memorial Award

The Student Memorial Award grants one recipient free conference attendance and a free NCMC membership for one year. Winner Autumn Hall is a senior at Western Carolina University majoring in history and anthropology.

NCMC Summer Internship Award

The NCMC Summer Internship Award grants a member institution $1,500 to fund a paid internship during the summer of 2024. Through an internship at awarded institution NC Museum of Dolls, Toys, and Miniatures (Spencer, NC), a student will gain experience helping inventory and catalog the organization’s extensive collection.

Emerging Museum Professional Award

New in 2024, the NCMC Emerging Museum Professional Award recognizes an outstanding individual who has worked in the museum industry for fewer than seven years. Recipient Felicia Ingram, Manager of Interpretation, Accessibility and Diversity at North Carolina Museum of Art. Ingram collaborates with museums and sites across NC to provide low-cost ideas to improve accessibility for people with disabilities and also volunteers with arts organizations in her city. She is admired by her nominators for her interpersonal skills when dealing with all types of personalities and her ability to make the museum a fun, welcoming, and enjoyable place for all.

For more information on our Awards programs, please email our Awards Chair at

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