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 2020 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 2020 award winners!
Today, we'll be featuring our winner for the 2020 award for Best Exhibition under $500,000.
Bradford Ohio is a railroad town. Taking its name from a prominent railroad official, the town owes its growth in the late 1800s to its location on the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad. In Bradford, the line split to service its namesake cities, trains took on provisions, and crews changed over.
With such a storied railroad history, it’s shocking to think that the only remaining structure of the railroad operation at Bradford could have been lost if not for the work of the Bradford Ohio Railroad Museum. A project 17 years in the making, the BF Interlocking Tower was acquired by the museum in 2003 and in serious need of repair – including a new roof, masonry replacement and interior restoration.
The result is one of the only few railroad switching towers on its original site, a listing on the National Register of Historic Places, and an interactive, immersive exhibit space that welcomes visitors to experience first-hand the signals and switching that occurred inside the building during its height of use.
Working with Bradford Village, Exhibit Concepts, and former Tower operators and Signal Maintainers, the exhibit combines the physical, historic building and former railroad structures with interpretive panels, artifacts, functional signal and rail switching interactives, and oral histories to create a comprehensive and educational interpretation of the BF Interlocking Tower and its function of routing trains through the junction.
The museum and community sees this project as an important step in establishing the Bradford Ohio Railroad Museum as a Railroad Heritage Tourism Destination. As Leiann Stewart, Executive Director of the Miami County CVB said, “It is certain that we will see an impact on tourism in our area due to this new exhibit, and …our efforts to bolster tourism in the area are easier knowing how dedicated the staff, volunteers, and community work to grow the visitor experience at the Bradford Railroad Museum.”
Did your museum have a spectacular exhibit - virtual or physical - during the 2021 season? Be sure to nominate it for the 2021 award for Best Exhibition! Learn more here.
One of the fun features of OMA's 2021 Virtual Awards Ceremony was being able to recognize our honorees "accepting" their award via video message. See below for the Bradford Ohio Railroad Museum's award acceptance video.