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Toledo Museums Receive Multiple Awards from Ohio Museum Association

A young woman with shoulder length black hair and wearing a dark purple red vest stands in front of a bush with bright yellow and orange leaves
Toledo Museum of Art Youth and Family Programs Manager Maria Iafelice

The Ohio Museum Association Awards program is an annual celebration of the outstanding achievement of Ohio museums in visual communications, individual and institutional achievement, and the work museum professionals undertake to help advance Ohio’s museum community both locally and on a national level. The 2019 Awards, announced recently, include four awards to two Toledo museums: The Toledo Museum of Art and The National Museum of the Great Lakes.

Toledo Museum of Art’s youth and family programs manager, Maria Iafelice, was named Emerging Professional of the Year. The catalog for Life is a Highway: Art and American Car Culture, written by TMA Works on Paper Curator Robin Reisenfeld with guest author Eleanor Heartney, was chosen as Best Exhibition Catalog.

The National Museum of the Great Lakes received two awards in the Visual Communications category: A Gold Award for their 2019 Annual Fund Campaign and A Silver Award for Shipwrecks of Lake Ontario: A Journey of Discovery by Jim Kennard.

“Our community is well represented by the outstanding people and projects receiving recognition from OMA,” said Adam M. Levine, TMA’s Edward Drummond and Florence Scott Libbey director. “Maria Iafelice’s leadership and passion for art, the community and the Museum are remarkable and have made TMA and Toledo a better place in her years with us. And we are thrilled that Robin Reisenfeld’s outstanding work on the Life is a Highway catalog has been recognized.”

“We are honored to be part of the Toledo museum community and to have our work recognized by OMA,” said Christopher Gillcrist, executive director of The National Museum of the Great Lakes. “Our annual fund campaign connected marvelously with our donors and their unique stories, and Jim Kennard’s Shipwrecks of Lake Ontario shares important discoveries in our recent history.”

About the Winners

Maria Iafelice, the Toledo Museum of Art’s youth & family programs manager, exemplifies the definition of an emerging leader. Since joining the Museum’s education staff in 2015, Iafelice has worked tirelessly to engage the community through gallery and campus experiences for inter-generational audiences. Iafelice established the Teen Leader program, formerly known as the Teen Apprentice program, in 2015 to serve the needs of the youth, the community, and the Museum, and the combined goals related to developing future community leaders. While it was first established with one school, Toledo School for the Arts, Iafelice has expanded the Teen Leader program to include teens from all Toledo Public Schools high schools. Iafelice has also overseen the growth of two popular TMA programs, the TMA Block Party and The Great Art Escape, which together brought more than 22,000 people to the Museum last year.

Accompanying Toledo Museum of Art’s major exhibition featuring more than 150 works of art in a wide range of media, the catalog for Life Is a Highway: Art and American Car Culture is an inclusive, historical overview of artists engaged in themes related to the car and its impact on American culture. Curator Robin Reisenfeld analyzes how artists spanning the 20th century have examined the mythic status of the car across social, cultural, aesthetic, environmental, and industrial dimensions with images that both celebrate and critique its legacy. Arts writer Eleanor Heartney also looks at contemporary global artists using automobile culture to address issues of identity, gender, politics and technology.

The National Museum of the Great Lakes 2019 Annual Fund Campaign highlights the organization's accomplishments and the upcoming celebration of their 75th anniversary. Filled with images that tell stories through snapshots of life at the museum, the campaign's primary message to donors is "whatever your story, whatever your Great Lakes experience ­– the National Museum of the Great Lakes is dedicated to preserving it.”

Shipwrecks of Lake Ontario: A Journey of Discovery highlights the story of shipwreck discoveries in Lake Ontario for the last 30 years in over 180 pages. Written by long-time collaborator Jim Kennard, it was coordinated and published by the National Museum of the Great Lakes with all proceeds from the sale of the book donated to NMGL

These winners will be recognized during the Annual OMA Awards Program Ceremony, which will take place Sunday, June 21, at 7 p.m., as the kick-off event for the 2020 Ohio Museums Association Virtual Conference. More information is available at