OMA Award Spotlight - Hope Taft

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 2021 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 2021 award winners! 

Today, we're closing out our month of celebration by featuring our winner for the 2021 award for Museum Advocate.

Hope Taft - Ohio History Connection

Though you might know her as Ohio’s former First Lady, at her core, Hope Taft is a dynamic volunteer and passionate advocate for Ohio history, culture, parks, geology and museums. There are countless examples of Hope sharing and promoting Ohio’s cultural assets and ensuring public access to them, but in the interest of time we’ll focus on just two today.

Soon after she moved into the Governor’s mansion in 1999, Hope took on the challenge of renovating what is now known as the ground’s Heritage Garden - engaging many of Ohio's public arboretums, botanic gardens, nature centers and special ecological landscapes managed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Park Districts and Historic sites. This partnership led to creation of the first-time directory of public gardens, arboretums, botanic gardens and other natural places to support Ohio's garden and natural resource managers.

Hope remains the Heritage Garden Chairperson, and this 22-year long renovation process has resulted in one of the most ecologically based Governor's Mansion in the United States.

Hope’s passion for Ohio history has let her to more than 15 years of enthusiastic support for the nomination of the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks to become Ohio’s first World Heritage sites. She has been a critical figure in the nomination, hosting several fundraising efforts, authoring op-eds, and encouraging other Ohioans to join the cause.

In 2021, Hope and her friend, Buck Niehoff, embarked on the Ancient Ohio Walk, trekking the 150 miles from each of the three sites that make up the World Heritage Nomination – Fort Ancient, Hopewell Culture National Historic Park, and Newark Earthworks. This walk not only elevated the visibility of the sites and the importance of World Heritage Nomination, but also lead to the creation of an "Ancient Trail Drive" for Ohioans and visitors from around the world to explore.

As Gary Meisner, Chairman of Scenic Ohio wrote, “Hope's direct and indirect positive influence to elevate Ohio's garden, historic, archaeological and natural resources has set the highest standard for unselfish public service.”

Do you know someone who consistently promotes the growth and sustainability of Ohio museums? Be sure to nominate them for the 2022 award for Museum Advocate! Learn more here.

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