IAM Awards

Do you know of an award-worthy museum?  

Recommend a museum or project (or person) for a 2019 IAM Award!  

Please click HERE to tell us the name of the museum.  We will contact them in May of 2019 to ask them to fill out a nomination form.


For more information, please contact the IAM Awards chairperson, Jeanne Schultz Angel at [email protected].

Each year Illinois Association of Museums is proud to celebrate the best in Illinois museums. From service awards to lifetime achievement to best practices excellence, IAM seeks the best that Illinois has to offer.  All IAM Institutional members are eligible. Institutions may only apply for one award per category each year.

Award of Distinction: (Competitive Award) APPLY HERE

Awards of Distinction recognize achievements and excellence in the museum field. Typically, one institution or individual per category will be honored. However, the IAM Awards Committee reserves the right to grant more than one award in a category. No institution or individual may win the same award more often than once every five years.

Institutional Awards: 

  • Volunteer Institution of the Year: No paid staff.
  • Small Institution of the Year: Paid staff and budget less than $250,000 per year.
  • Mid-size Institution of the Year: Paid staff and budget of  $250,001 to $999,999 per year.
  • Large Institution of the Year: Paid Staff and budget of $1,000,000 to 4,999,999 per year.
  • Leader Institution of the Year: Paid staff and budget of $5,000,000 or more per year.

Individual Awards:

  • Volunteer of the Year: Five years of service in Illinois.
  • Professional of the Year: Ten years professional experience with five years in Illinois, professional involvement outside institution.
  • Board Member of the Year: Ten years volunteer trustee service in Illinois.
  • Policy Maker of the Year: An elected official and  supportive of museums in Illinois.
  • Museum Studies Graduate Student of the Year: Nominated by the faculty of the museum studies program.


Anniversary and Service Awards:  APPLY HERE

  • The Anniversary Awards will be given to member institutions who are celebrating special anniversaries: the Silver Award for twenty-five years in existence, the Gold Award for fifty years, the Platinum Award for seventy-five years, and the Diamond Award for one hundred years.
  • The Service Awards will be given to recognize volunteers with long years of faithful service at member institutions.  The Silver Award will recognize twenty-five years of service, and the Gold Award honors fifty years of service.
  • Lifetime Professional Achievement: Twenty-five years of service with a minimum of fifteen years in Illinois.
  • Lifetime Volunteer Achievement: Twenty-five years of service with a minimum of fifteen years in Illinois.


Award of Best Practices Categories:  APPLY HERE

If the nomination is ongoing, it can only be nominated in its first two years or after substantial changes are made to it in subsequent years. This year, the application will be in the form of a PDF document.

Collection Conservation    

Conservation projects of collections of scientific, historic or art materials are entered in this category.  The narrative must include information about how the project was implemented to follow accepted museum standards and how the project relates to the institution’s general conservation plan. A Conservator’s report, if available, should be submitted.

Building and/or Site Preservation

Building and/or site preservation nominations must include a description of the scope of the work done on the building/site, information about phases of the project, evidence to justify the restoration decisions made (photographs, old documents, architectural evidence, etc.), a structural report if one was prepared, and before-and-after photographs. 


The narrative of this nomination must include a description of the planning process for the exhibit and an evaluation of its effectiveness.  Support materials must include photographs of the exhibit in place, sample label copy, drawings showing the layout and size of the exhibit space, and a general description of what was exhibited.

Educational Programs

Both formal and informal educational programs used on site or off site are eligible for this category.  The nomination must include planning strategies, educational objectives and goals, and evaluation of the program’s effectiveness. Teacher’s guides and lesson plans, and any supplementary material pertinent to the program should be included if applicable.

Printed Materials

Periodicals-Regularly released publications (annual, quarterly, monthly, etc.) may be nominated. If major changes have been made, before and after examples must be included. Periodicals that have previously won an award from IAM must demonstrate a new design or new focus. Indicate if the institution’s annual report is programmatic, financial or both.  Popular Publications- Pictorial books, cookbooks, guide books, coloring books, and some exhibit catalogs are examples. The nomination must include information about planning for the publications, authorship, and design, and the relationship between the publication and the mission of the institution.  Promotional/Informative Materials- Informational brochures, pamphlets, development program publications, annual reports, calendars, posters, policy and procedures manuals, docent training manuals, etc. Include sample(s) of page(s).

Virtual Materials

Website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, videos, and other creative uses of the internet to further the institution’s mission may be nominated. Social Media that have previously won an award from IAM must demonstrate a new design or focus. Include web address and screen shots.

Special Projects

This category honors all one-time projects that were developed and implemented for a specific reason or to celebrate a specific event. Describe the event or reason and how the project supported or enhanced it. Include any partnerships if applicable.

Green Initiatives

Initiatives by your institution to create a culture of environmental responsibility and sustainability either in its building, operations, programming, or within its community. Share your eco-friendly accomplishments.

Community Partnerships

A partnership, for this award, is a formal arrangement between a learning institution (museum, zoo, nature center, etc.) and another institution such as a school/college/university, government, taxing district, association, private sector organization, or public profit and/or nonprofit institution to provide a program, service or resource that supports and advances the mission of both partners and engages and empowers the chosen community. Examples are partnering on a curriculum to connect students to a museum, partnering with health providers to serve patients with Alzheimer’s, autism, etc., camp programs, workshop series, a community vegetable garden, serving underserve audiences, etc. Please include why the partnership was formed and if it is now continual or only for one time.



Prior Award Winners

2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
2010 2009 2008  2017  2018