The Johnson County Museum was recently awarded the American Association of State and Local History’s (AASLH) 2021 Award of Excellence for its response to COVID-19. The museum’s pandemic response included: a collecting initiative; a temporary exhibition designed to inspire and embolden the community; a partner-supported community art exhibition and public programming to help unpack the pandemic and address mental health needs; and special educational programming to offer safe and nurturing spaces for childcare, summer camps, and virtual learning hubs, as well as curriculum guides to help older students better understand the historic context of the pandemic and social justice movements.
“As a county museum, we are deeply committed to serving our community,” said Museum Director Mary McMurray. “When the pandemic disrupted so much of our lives, the museum team used one question to focus our work: ‘how can we best serve the community?’ We’re honored that our dedication to serving the community earned the national distinction from AASLH.”
This year, AASLH conferred 38 national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, and publications. The winners represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history.
The AASLH awards program was initiated in 1945 to establish and encourage standards of excellence in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and local history throughout the United States. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards not only honor significant achievement in the field of state and local history, but also bring public recognition of the opportunities for small and large organizations, institutions, and programs to make contributions in this arena.
The Johnson County Museum strives to showcase Johnson County’s unique stories through collections, programs, and exhibitions utilizing its iconic venues. The museum features a signature exhibit, “Becoming Johnson County;” KidScape, a fully immersive, interactive history experience that encourages children to explore different time periods and communities; a temporary gallery, which currently features furniture and furnishings of Mid-Century designer Paul McCobb; and “Rising to the Challenge: Suburban Strength in Difficult Times,” a centerpiece of the museum’s Award of Excellence that highlights how Johnson Countians have responded to challenging times in the past in order to guide Johnson Countians through the COVID-19 pandemic. Learners of all ages are invited to visit the museum to learn more about Johnson County and the history of suburbia.
The American Association for State and Local History is a not-for-profit professional organization of individuals and institutions working to preserve and promote history. From its headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., AASLH provides leadership, service, and support for its members who preserve and interpret state and local history in order to make the past more meaningful to all people. AASLH publishes books, technical publications, a quarterly magazine, and maintains numerous affinity communities and committees serving a broad range of constituents across the historical community. The association also sponsors an annual meeting, regional and national training in-person workshops, and online training.