Best Of 2022

Best Award to a Local Museum

The Taft Museum of Art

If you tell someone that the Taft Museum of Art won the 2021 American Alliance of Museums’ Excellence in Exhibition Label Writing Competition, you might get a laugh back. Outside the world of museum exhibition label writing, it wouldn’t seem to be of interest. Well, you should care a lot and be very proud of the commitment to inclusion shown by the Taft that resulted in the award. Spurred by Museum President/CEO Deborah Emont Scott’s urging to have the museum address the inequities of American history, part of a national effort that became urgent following the 2020 murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, curator Tamera Lenz Muente added “More to the Story” text to 16 labels for artwork in the Taft’s 2020-2021exhibit A Splendid Century: Cincinnati Art 1820-1920. The Taft said of the exhibit that “no century is ‘splendid’ for all people.” In particular, to accompany an 1840 self-portrait by18-year-old artist Lilly Martin Spencer, Muente explained how just 10% of women at the time were able to work outside the home, and then mostly in such jobs as teacher, nurse or domestic servant. Spencer, indeed, was a lucky exception to American norms for women. Of the 11 award winners from over 100 submissions, the Taft was the only art museum to be honored. That is a big deal. Watch for further “More to the Story” labels in future shows.