RRAAM named Louisiana Museum of the Year

William Stark, Past-President of the Louisiana Association of Museums, presents the Museum of the Year award to Beryl Hunter, RRAAM Ambassador and Curator, and Janice Linton, RRAAM Ambassador in Natchitoches.

John Franklin, Smithsonian Institute, Director of Partnership and International Programs, once said, without the River Road African American Museum, “the worker, enslaved or free, would be depicted without the understanding of the role of African men and women in shaping the culture of Louisiana.” 

The Louisiana Association of Museums feels just as strongly about the RRAAM as it named the RRAAM to be the 2014 Louisiana Museum of the Year at its annual conference held on April 28 in Natchitoches.

Sherry Wagener, President of the Louisiana Association of Museums, said they’ve seen the RRAAM grow from one room in an outbuilding of Tezcuco Plantation, to a “multi-component museum through the efforts of its dedicated and talented staff.”

“Immersed in the history of the African American community of the area, this landmark museum continues to set the example by its informative programs and stellar exhibits on both the enslaved and free persons of color,” Wagener said. “Whether school children, locals, visitors from this country or foreign lands, everyone will have an exceptional educational experience.”

“The Louisiana Association of Museums was pleased to recognize the accomplishments of such a grand example of an outstanding museum,” Wagener said.

The award recognizes a museum that embodies what museums are and what they do.  It recognizes the museum that has demonstrated a commitment to its community through outstanding, professionally conceived, and executed programming.

Darryl Gissel, RRAAM Board of Directors President, said the recognition speaks volumes about the museum and what a “small group has accomplished with very limited resources.”

“The museum’s success is based on a passion for telling the story of slavery, freedom and the role African-Americans have had in shaping the culture of the River Road Region of Louisiana,” Gissel said. “This recognition follows a long list of national and international honors and awards the museum has received in its 20 year history.”

The RRAAM celebrated its 20-year anniversary earlier this year, and Gissel said its location in the heart of Plantation Country, its collection and above all the dedication of its founders, board and volunteers for pursuing its mission all work together to make it unique.

Gissel said this state award is long overdue in his mind.

“It does however come at a time when the Museum is making great strides to raise funds to expand its facilities, staff and broaden its reach in becoming the leading resource in the areas of education and interpretation of slavery and freedom,” Gissel said.