OMA Award Spotlight -Wood County Historical Center

It's official - Awards Season is upon us! Here at OMA, autumn also kicks off our awards season, with nominations for the Annual Ohio Museums Association Awards, accepted through January 25, 2021.

The Ohio Museums Association’s Annual Awards are all about Ohio – more specifically the museums in our great state and the wonderful museum professionals who work in and for them. 

The OMA Awards are divided into two categories: the Awards of Achievement, and the Visual Communication Awards. Learn more about these two categories and how you can nominate your museum on the OMA Awards page.

Recognizing excellence in Ohio museums during Arts and Humanities Month

To help celebrate October as Arts and Humanities Month, and to kick-off the call for nominations for this year's OMA awards, we'll be highlighting our 2019 OMA Award of Achievement winners throughout the month with our OMA Award Spotlight. We are featuring these Award Winner Spotlights during Arts and Humanities Month to help champion the amazing projects, programs and professionals that make Ohio's museum community strong.

The Awards of Achievement are presented to reflect the outstanding quality and caliber of work by Ohio museums and their professionals in two categories: Institutional Achievement Awards and Individual Achievement Awards.

Nominations for these awards are incredibly detailed. This in-depth process helps to illustrate how these institutions and individuals have gone “above and beyond” the normal call of duty to support their institution, serve their public and advance the cause of the museum community.

Each year, the review panel is overwhelmed by the outstanding projects, innovative programming and dedication to our field as exhibited in each of the institutional and individual nominations. Congratulations again to each of our 2019 award winners! 

Today, we'll be featuring our winner for the 2019 award for Best Exhibition under $500,000.

Wood County Historical Center - For Comfort & Convenience: Public Charity in Ohio by Way of the Poor Farm

From 1869-1971, the Wood County Home – now the home of the Wood County Historical Center – functioned as a home for the indigent. Also known as “the poor farm” or “infirmary,” there was little community understanding of the building’s original purpose, or the relationship it had with other county homes across the state.

This led the Wood County Historical Center to create an exhibit in celebration of the 150th anniversary of this charitable building.  For Comfort & Convenience: Public Charity in Ohio by Way of the Poor Farm was painstakingly researched, with staff digging deep into Ohio history to document the cause and effect of institutional poverty in Ohio, and the means by which the government once sought to address this still-pressing issue.

As part of the exhibit, the monthly tea and talk series welcomed speakers from across the United State to address how county poor farms were unique, and to connect the dots on how these institutions led to the social services we know today.

Because of the history of the building, a pauper cemetery is located on the grounds of the museum, marked by unnamed, numbered tombstones. Because of the twenty-five year, dedicated research of volunteer, Millie Broka, the museum was able to name 252 confirmed burials. The museum honored those buried with dedicated a monument inside the cemetery, and presented stories about inhabitants of the former county home cemetery, gleaned from years of research.

The exhibit sheds light not only on the historical significance of the Historical Center itself, but on this little-known and mostly forgotten statewide system of poor relief that once common across Ohio, putting a human face and story to the cause and effect of institutional poverty in Ohio. As one educator wrote, “Understanding the rich history of the lives of those that are often forgotten bring us closer with a greater understanding of our own humanity.”

Did your museum have a spectacular exhibit - virtual or physical - during the 2020 season? Be sure to nominate it for the 2020 award for Best Exhibition! Learn more here.


The Wood County Team Accepts their award during the OMA 2020 Virtual Awards Ceremony

One of the fun features of OMA's 2020 Virtual Awards Ceremony was being able to recognize our honorees "accepting" their award via video message. See below for the Wood County Historical Center's award acceptance video.

Wood County Historical Center OMA 2019 Award Acceptance Video

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