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On Campus

LCVA Receives Top Honors in National AAM Competition

LCVA brochure

Art is certainly what draws visitors to exhibitions, but the art - along with visitors' appreciation of it - is supported by a variety of small, sometimes unnoticed elements, from such as labels or invitations. The LCVA recently won two national awards for just these items. Both winners were displayed at the 2009 national meeting of the American Association of Museums (AAM) in Philadelphia.

First, a label for a recent LCVA exhibition received top recognition in the 2009 Excellence in Exhibition Label-Writing Competition organized by the Curators Committee of the American Association of Museums.

The winning label represented the exhibition It's Giving Me the Creeps! Art from the LCVA Permanent Collection that Scares the Staff. The label identified and elaborated on artist Mari A. Newman and her untitled depiction of an orange doll. Each label in the exhibition featured not only traditional identifiers about a work's artist, title, and media, but it also displayed the opinions of the LCVA staff members who found the work to be disturbing.

Each label concluded with material about the artist and the work, placing the challenging piece within the broader art context. Jurors described the exhibition and labels as "engaging" and "compelling." Marlene Chambers, editor emerita of the Denver Art Museum, noted, "The idea that even the museum staff might find some art off-putting or 'creepy' audaciously validates the visitor's own gut-level responses and opens the door to thoughtful consideration." 

Second, an invitation for a donor recognition event won first prize in its class for the AAM's Museum Publications Design Competition. The LCVA competed among museums with budgets less than $750,000 from across the country. The invitation was featured in the July/August issue of the AAM's magazine, Museum.The invitation honored William and Ann Oppenhimer for their creation of a folk art collection at the LCVA. The key image - which was used for both the invitation and an accompanying refrigerator magnet - was Howard Finster's Mr. Coke, 1989.

"In some ways, we might think of invitations or labels as small things," noted K. Johnson Bowles, director of the LCVA. "But part of good stewardship is being faithful even in the small things. This recognition of excellenceis an endorsement of the LCVA's programs, from small to big." - B.C.