Albany sights offered Georgia Affiliation of Museums Training award |

THOMASVILLE — More than 100 museum professionals from all regions of the state — from Cartersville to Valdosta — came here recently for the annual meeting of the Georgia Association of Museums. The theme of this year’s conference was “The Next Normal.”

Attendees participated in a variety of sessions and workshops, ranging from developing education programs to designing eye-catching exhibits to visiting with vendors whose products and services target the field.

The highlight of the week was the annual GAM awards luncheon. This year the Artesian Alliance attractions — Chehaw Park and Zoo, Flint RiverQuarium, and Thronateeska — along with the Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau were each presented the Education Award for the attractions’ Southwest Georgia Learning Initiative. The award was handed out by GAM President Ephraim Rotter and Award Committee Co-Chairs Melissa Swindell and Karin Dalton.

“We are very pleased to present this award to a very deserving recipient,” Rotter said. “Our members represent a good cross-section of the museums and cultural organizations in Georgia’s communities, large and small. We are happy to honor institutions, staff members, volunteers, patrons, exhibits, and special projects that have excelled in providing inspiring programs and leadership.”

The Education award recognizes an on-site or outreach program that has as its primary purpose the education of student or adult audiences. This program extends the organization’s mission and demonstrates scholarship and originality contributing to the cultural and education fabric of the organization’s community and is an example of excellence in theory, planning and implementation.

The Southwest Georgia Learning Initiative was a collaborative project that filled an immediate education need addressing shortfalls in available K-12 learning resources during the COVID-19 pandemic and created a permanent digital library of existing K-12 programming. The project was funded as a $100,000 matching grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation and in-kind donations.

The Artesian Alliance created a variety of free virtual lessons for students, teachers and families, and the CVB promoted content through its network. All content introduced or reinforced the Georgia Standards of Excellence and incorporated social science, math, English, and art in addition to science for a well-rounded learning approach. Staff created both synchronous and asynchronous lessons so students could participate in real time or later when convenient.

All content and resources are available free of charge through the Artesian Alliance website. Targeted programming also is provided to students with special needs through personalized Zoom presentations and take-home sensory kits.

“I am honored that the Artesian Alliance staff were recognized for their work in responding to the need for virtual learning opportunities created by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Alliance Executive Director Tommy Gregors said. “Their effort, supported by the RK Mellon Foundation and our partners, ensured that students and parents in southwest Georgia had access to educational content in science and history.”

The Georgia Association of Museums is a private, nonprofit statewide organization dedicated to encouraging growth and improving professional practices of museums and nonprofit galleries throughout the state. The annual conference is an opportunity for museum professionals, board members, volunteers and supporters to share information and build relationships among museums and galleries throughout the state. The conference is hosted by a different community each year.

For more information on the Georgia Association of Museums, visit


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