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RMSC and Kate Bennett receive awards from Museum Association of New York

    ROCHESTER, NY—Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC) received two 2019 Awards of Merit from the Museum Association of New York (MANY) at its annual conference earlier this month. MANY Awards of Merit recognize outstanding and innovative programs, staff, and volunteers who enriched New York State museums with new and remarkable projects during the previous year. The awards were judged in seven categories and presented to 12 individuals, museums, exhibitions, and programs from across the state.

    Kate Bennett, RMSC Past President, was awarded the prestigious Anne Ackerson Innovation in Leadership Award, which recognizes a board member or staff leader who saw their organization through a critical challenge or significant opportunity in a creative, effective manner. Members of the selection committee noted that Bennett’s “work at RMSC was exemplary for the field” and that she “led the organization to new levels of community engagement, relevance, and sustainability.”

    Bennett led RMSC from 1996­–2018, serving as both President and President & CEO. Under her leadership, RMSC transformed to enhance visitor engagement and increase its STEM focus; created more than 200 hands-on exhibit experiences in partnership with the community; and engaged in numerous collaborations on topics important to the community, including the RACE: Are We So Different and Take it Down: Organizing Against Racism projects. During her tenure RMSC also grew its programming to include hybrid exhibitions combining collections, programs, content, and human interaction; frequent and varied live-animal demonstrations; one of the country’s first music-driven Tesla coil experiences including a Faraday cage; real-time exhibitions such as Science on a Sphere; a robust array of educational camps; unique, creative, and highly educational Planetarium programs; an environmentally focused Nature Center; and sustainable upgrades to collections spaces that will ensure better access to the region’s unique heritage for generations to come.

    RMSC also received an Engaging Communities Award for the Take It Down: Organizing Against Racism traveling exhibit, which is presented in partnership with the Take It Down Planning Committee and the City of Rochester. The award recognizes organizations that use creative methods to engage its community and build new audiences, and projects may include collections interpretation, exhibitions, lecture series, educational or public programs, focus groups, strategic planning, or other community engagement efforts. In its announcement MANY said, “Using the removal of a racist panel from the historic Dentzel Carousel at Ontario Beach Park in Rochester, NY, the Take It Down: Organizing Against Racism exhibit and related programs benefited the public by galvanizing conversations around the racial inequity that has divided Rochester. Community receptions, panels, and rich discussion-based programs at each Take It Down exhibit venue demonstrated the exhibition’s ability to serve as a springboard to address issues of social justice in the Rochester community.”

    For additional information, contact Mare Millow, Marketing Communications Manager, RMSC, 585.697.1944,

    The Museum Association of New York (MANY) inspires, connects, and strengthens New York’s cultural community statewide by advocating, educating, collaborating, and supporting professional standards and organizational development. MANY ensures that New York museums operate at their full potential as economic drivers and essential components of their communities.

    Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC) includes the Science Museum, Strasenburgh Planetarium and Cumming Nature Center. Offering experiences at the Museum with more than 200 interactive exhibits, Planetarium with a 65-foot dome and Nature Center on 900 acres, the RMSC stimulates community interest in exploration. In addition, the more than 1.2 million RMSC collection items tell the story of Rochester’s past and present, including its rich history of innovation and invention. RMSC receives major funding from Monroe County, where it is one of the top three most visited attractions serving children and families. For more information about RMSC, visit Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

    Photos left to right: Kate Bennett, RMSC Past President, accepts the Anne Ackerson Innovation in Leadership Award; Kathryn Murano Santos, RMSC Senior Director for Collections and Exhibits, accepts the Engaging Communities Award for the Take It Down: Organizing Against Racism traveling exhibit