OMA Award Spotlight - Fred Bidwell

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 2022 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 2022 award winners! 

Today, we'll be featuring our winner for the 2022 award for Museum Advocate

Fred Bidwell - Front Exhibition Co.


Fred Bidwell is a community leader, philanthropist, and collector who has had a tremendous impact on the arts ecosystem in Ohio, and tirelessly championed Ohio museums and arts institutions.

Fred’s years of service to the Ohio museum community is an impressive laundry list that, in reading, won’t do justice to his impact on our field, but we’ll try anyway! Advocating for public funding for the arts, Fred co-chaired the Cleveland-based Arts & Culture Action Committee in 2014, leading it through a successful ballot issue to renew a cigarette tax to help fund grants to museums through Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.

In 2021, he became the chair of the inaugural Board of Assembly for the Arts, a nonprofit organization with a focus on advocacy, cultural policy, racial equity initiatives, and services for nonprofits, artists, and creative businesses.

Fred Bidwell has served as interim Director of the Cleveland Museum of Art, served twice as Board President of Akron Art Museum, and in addition to the board chair of the Assembly for the arts, currently serves on the Board of the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Visiting Committee of the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin.

But Fred isn’t just an advocate for museums – he’s a maker of museums. Fred opened Transformer Station–a contemporary art museum in Cleveland–with his wife Laura, and also founded FRONT International, a contemporary (and award winning) art triennial that showcases Northeast Ohio museums on a global platform.

Jeremy Johnson President and CEO of the Assembly for the Arts sums up Fred’s impact as the advocate we would all want for our organizations, saying, “He is a steadfast advocate for strengthening our museums through advancing sustainable public and private support, providing resources for bolstering organizational capacity, and positioning institutions to be core partners with the communities they serve.”

Do you know someone who consistently promotes the growth and sustainability of Ohio museums? Be sure to nominate them for the 2023 award for Museum Advocate! Learn more here.

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