The Award for Writing Excellence goes to the author(s) of the articles deemed by members of the Museum Education Roundtable board to be novel, thought-provoking, and of the highest caliber of scholarship and writing. Any article accepted for publication and published within a calendar year is automatically eligible for consideration for the Award for Writing Excellence. The Award for Editorial Excellence goes to the guest editor(s) of the themed issue from which the Writing Excellence article was chosen. Any guest editor or guest editorial team is automatically eligible for consideration for the Award for Editorial Excellence.

2019 Awardees: Carissa DiCindio, Bryan L. Davis, Ariel Goldberg, Jessica J. Luke, Eileen D. Tomczuk, Susan Foutz, Nicole Rivera, Lisa Brahms, Kari Ross Nelson, Barbara Hahn, Melissa Swank and Kimberly McKenney
Authors Sol (Bryan) Davis and Ariel Goldberg have received the Award for Writing Excellence for their article, “At Variance with Accepted Practice: Antiracist Pedagogies Within the Jewish History Museum” in the guest-edited section of issue 44.4 of the Journal of Museum Education. In their article, Davis and Goldberg share their work at the Jewish History Museum and Holocaust History Center in Tucson, Arizona to document Jewish histories alongside local histories of Black, Latinx and Indigenous people. The authors document efforts to pair education programs, public lectures and museum displays in order to make relevant connections between the past and contemporary issues surrounding racism, trauma and exclusion. “At Variance with Accepted Practice” presents an honest account of museum practitioners framing difficult dialogues and spurring participants, museum staff and readers into action. 

Authors Jessica J. Luke, Eileen D. Tomczuk, Susan Foutz, Nicole Rivera, Lisa Brahms, Kari Ross Nelson, Barbara Hahn, Melissa Swank, and Kimberly McKenney have received the Award for Writing Excellence for their co-written contribution to issue 44.4 of the Journal of Museum Education entitled, “What Caregivers Observe about Their Children’s Learning During a Visit to the Children’s Museum.” In this article, the authors share their research regarding the observations of caregivers within the museum. Using multi-step data collection, caregivers from eight children’s museums across the country were asked about the interests, social skills, problem-solving and emotional learning they witnessed as they watched their children engage with exhibits and with others. Findings from this well-crafted and carefully executed study have implications across the entire museum, including exhibit design and education, but also for any field that wishes to engage children in learning. 

Guest editor Carissa DiCindio, is also recognized for their work to curate a collection of articles for JME 44.4, including “At Variance with Accepted Practice,” surrounding the topic of the relevancy of the history of museum education.

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2018 Awardees: Phillippa Pitts, Mike Deetsch, Rachel Glass, Regina Jankowski, Evelyn Mylander, Peggy Roth, Elisabeth Wharton
The winning articles for this year’s Awards for Writing Excellence demonstrate the potential for innovative and powerful museum experiences to reach beyond a mere interaction with art, artifact, or content into deeper learning. Their work reflects the leading edge of our field through the development of two different models. In one, museum educators partner with the Toledo school system to focus their curriculum on pre-literacy skills development. In the other, the museum educators design a participatory gallery space so effective that it can exist without the educator, and is truly in the hands of the visitor. Importantly, each of these articles creates a roadmap for how we can transform or modify these practices for our own institutions.

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2017 Awardees: Melanie Adams, Anna Forgerson Hindley, Julie Olsen Edwards, Esther J. WashingtonThe winners of the inaugural MER Awards for Writing Excellence and Editorial Excellence highlighted and advanced important conversations many of us are having, wish to be having, or need to be having about race, racism, and equity in museums. The topic itself is not new, and not new to museum educators, many of whom have been been vanguard among the museum profession in advocating and implementing radical anti-racism pedagogies and andragogies as a function of their training and professional experience working with children, youth, and families in galleries for decades. But the current moment, which holds on the one hand, an an American President widely denounced for racist rhetoric and policies, and on the other hand, surging grass roots activism such as Black Lives Matter and the Women’s Marches, presents opportunities for new approaches and an ongoing urgency for the work. Museum Educators are proving to be strong leaders in movements for greater anti-racism work on both the inner and outer workings of our institutions. These award-winning articles shine a light on early childhood and racial identity; on Critical Race Theory as it applies to museum education, and on inclusion-based museology at the newest Smithsonian on the block, the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

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