Learn More about the New Impact Award

The Western Museums Association (WMA) is excited to announce the addition of a new annual award: the WMA Impact Award! Created by the WMA board, this new award is focused on recognizing mid-career museum professionals.

"Mid-career professionals are the foundation of the museum profession. They've dedicated themselves to making museums thrive and succeed, stayed in the field when faced with numerous challenges (low-pay, long hours, large work load, lack of recognition/appreciation, lack of advancement opportunities, etc.), volunteering with museum-related/other nonprofits, and often mentoring, supervising, and encouraging new, emerging professionals," noted Louise Yokoi, WMA Board Vice President of Programs.  "For this reason, I feel it's crucial to recognize the incredibly valuable work that mid-career professionals do - especially when many times their work happens behind-the-scenes and is not always highlighted if they're not yet at the level of Director or Executive Director."

The award is open to nominees who have done impactful work in a variety of areas including: an individual’s work on a specific project or program, efforts to bring about organizational change, or leadership within the community having a significant, positive effect on their museum, the surrounding community, or the museum field in the Western region. 

The 2018 WMA Impact Award recipient will also be awarded $1,500 to support their continuing professional development goals. "We want to help support these amazing professionals with public acknowledgment, as well as financial assistance so that they can continue to grow and share their gifts with the field," stated Yokoi. 

By honoring professionals who have been working for a sustained amount of time (at least 10 years) the WMA Impact Award demonstrates all the values of WMA, but in particular Excellence, Leadership, Inclusion, and Sustainability.

  • Excellence: Challenge museums to strive for their best in the belief that they all have the potential to impact the lives of others
  • Leadership: To promote the professional development of all museum staff, volunteers, and trustees, while seeking to enhance their positive change and growth as all individuals have the potential to be leaders.
  • Inclusion: To encourage differences of opinions, perspectives, and unfamiliar ideas, as they enrich the WMA.
  • Sustainability: In seeking innovation, the WMA takes a measured and responsible approach to decisions and initiatives, with the appreciation that today’s actions affect the organization’s future success and vitality.

"By launching this new award, WMA clearly demonstrates the many ways they support and care about museum professionals. WMA just doesn't offer the hard skills of professional development, learning, and networking, but goes beyond to put the necessary and appropriate value on soft skills," stated Yokoi. "WMA wouldn't be of value to the field and professionals if we served professionals in just a one-dimensional way. Considering museum professionals as a complete whole sets a great example of how to value, respect, and appreciate the dedication of museum professionals."


  • Nominee should have a minimum of ten years in a museum or museum-related field and be currently active in the profession.
  • Nominee can be working in any museum discipline: administration, collections management, community engagement, curatorial, development, editorial, education, exhibitions, human resources, marketing/public relations, museum studies, etc.
  • Nominee must be available to attend the Annual Meeting to receive the award.

Criteria - the selection of the WMA Impact Award recipient is based on the following criteria:

  • Developed or implemented an innovative project, program, or exhibition that creatively addressed an issue or subject matter and has had a positive impact on members of a community and/or the public at large.
  • Shows a commitment to fostering open and respectful discussion among colleagues and members of a community and/or the public to help create a more inclusive and just society.
  • Maintains a high standard of excellence and demonstrates exemplary initiative, dedication and leadership.
  • Promotes the cultural importance of museums through their work.


Nominations can be submitted by a museum professional at any level, but individuals cannot self-nominate.
(Current staff and trustees of the Western Museum Association are not eligible for nomination)

Initial funding for the IMPACT AWARD is being provided by the Volver Trust




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