Excellence in Exhibition Label Writing Competition

The annual label writing competition is moving into its second decade. Created by Brian Peterson in 2002 and revived and led by John Russick and Emily Nordstrom since 2008, the competition has recognized outstanding and innovative label writing in museums, zoos, aquariums, universities and libraries. 

The Curators Committee (CurCom) sponsors this competition in cooperation with EdCom and NAME. A panel of label experts, selected by the committees and the competition organizers, determines the work to recognize.

Each year, the competition inspires a gathering of writers and editors to discuss technique, style, and process at the Alliance annual meeting’s Marketplace of Ideas. It has also generated an archive for current and aspiring museum professionals to use as they strive to write and edit exhibition label copy.

The 2014 Competition

A panel of four jurors—Benjamin Filene, Beth Kaminsky, Deborah L. Mack and Jenny-Sayre Ramberg—reviewed the entries and chose to honor eight. In addition to the eight recognized entries, we gave each juror the opportunity to champion a label not lauded by the full jury. As a result, three Juror’s Choice labels are also being honored. As the contest grows each year, so does the amount of time and effort required from the jurors. We thank our panel for their dedication and expertise. We also extend our gratitude to AAM for supporting the competition and to CurCom for sponsoring it in cooperation with EdCom and NAME.

2014 marks the second year of the collaboration between AAM’s Curators Committee and the Museology Graduate program at the University of Washington. The partnership makes the competition not only an outlet to celebrate excellent writing but an opportunity for the next generation of museum professionals to gain experience in professional communication, management and leadership.

John Russick
Competition Project Director
Director of Curatorial Affairs, Chicago History Museum

Kevin Bicknell
Museology Graduate Student, University of Washington, Seattle