Behind the Veneer features furniture made by Thomas Day, a free man of color who owned and operated one of North Carolina’s largest cabinet shops prior to the Civil War. In addition to showcasing approximately 60 pieces of furniture crafted by this accomplished artisan and entrepreneur from Milton, Behind the Veneer explores the extraordinary story of a man who succeeded and flourished despite shrinking freedoms for free people of color in antebellum North Carolina.
“The Museum of History is extremely excited to receive these awards, as they attest to the level of expertise, creativity and dedication of the museum staff who created and built the exhibit,” noted Ken Howard, Museum Director.
Details about the exhibit’s national awards follow.
Two Awards From the American Association for State and Local History
On July 1 the AASLH announced that the N.C. Museum of History received a 2011 Award of Merit from the AASLH Leadership in History Awards for Behind the Veneer. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 66th year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.
In addition to the Award of Merit, the AASLH selected Behind the Veneer as a 2011 WOW Award winner. The WOW Award, given at the discretion of the Leadership in History Awards committee, is an additional award for an Award of Merit winner whose nomination is “highly inspirational, exhibits exceptional scholarship, and/or is exceedingly entrepreneurial in terms of funding, partnerships, or collaborations, creative problem solving, or unusual project design and inclusiveness.” Only three WOW Awards were presented in 2011.
This year AASLH conferred a total of 59 national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, books and organizations. The organization states that “these winners represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history.” The awards will be presented during the 2011 AASLH Annual Meeting in Richmond, Va., on Sept. 16.
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 is a not-for-profit professional organization of individuals and institutions working to preserve and promote history.
Award >From the American Association of Museums
On May 25 the AAM announced that Behind the Veneer received an AAM Excellence in Exhibition Special Achievement Award for Reframing Collections. The term “reframing collections” refers to how the staff used the museum’s collection of Thomas Day furniture to create an exhibit that also tells the stories of Day’s life, of free people of color, and of the antebellum period.
The Excellence in Exhibition Competition “recognizes exhibitions for overall excellence or for testing the limits of creativity in exhibition content and design through innovation,” according to AAM. The award was announced at the 2011 AAM Annual Meeting and MuseumExpo™ in Houston. Honorees were selected from hundreds of entrants in the fields of exhibit design, publications, technological achievement and more.
“Museum professionals from every type and size of museum are doing great things, every day,” said AAM president Ford W. Bell. “But these award winners have demonstrated the creativity, ingenuity, depth of knowledge and technical expertise that made their work truly stand out. These efforts are all the more significant because their excellence was determined by their peers.”
Per AAM, “Entries are peer reviewed based on criteria in six major categories: audience awareness and education; content; evaluation; curatorship and collections; design and production; and accessibility.”
Visit the N.C. Museum of History and see Behind the Veneer, on view through early summer 2012. Admission is free. Progress Energy is title sponsor of the exhibit, with additional support from Raleigh’s News & Observer, The Broyhill Family Foundation Inc. and Mr. and Mrs. H. Nelson Rich.
For more information about the exhibit or the museum, call 919-807-7900 or access ncmuseumofhistory.org. The museum is located at 5 E. Edenton St., across from the State Capitol. Parking is available in the lot across Wilmington Street.