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DIA exterior at night
DIA exterior at night

Detroit Institute of Arts wins Excellence in Exhibitions Award - Museum honored for Through African Eyes: The European in African Art, 1500 to Present

Monday, May 07, 2012

(Detroit)—The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) was selected as a winner in the American Association of Museum’s (AAM) 24th Annual AAM Excellence in Exhibitions competition. The award was announced at the 2012 AAM Annual Meeting in Minneapolis on May 1. The DIA received AAM’s highest honor for exhibitions for Through African Eyes: The European in African Art, 1500 to Present, which was on view at the DIA in 2010 and at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, in 2011.

Through African Eyes was organized by Dr. Nii Quarcoopome, DIA curator of African art and head of the department of Africa, Oceania, and the Indigenous Americas. The exhibition illustrated African perspectives on the diverse, changing relationships between Africans and the West over the past 500 years through some of the finest African art in the world.

AAM recognized Through African Eyes for outstanding integration of new scholarship, innovative interpretation, evaluation and community engagement. Among the 18 entries this year, Through African Eyes was selected as the overall winner by unanimous vote.

“The art and science of creating wonderful exhibitions that excite and engage visitors is a challenge,” said Elizabeth Kunz Kollmann, 2012 Excellence in Exhibitions competition coordinator. “Through African Eyes is one such exhibition and serves as a model of the capacity of museum exhibitions to provide transforming experiences visitors so often attribute to them.”

The Excellence in Exhibitions competition is a joint project of AAM’s professional committees of curators, educators, evaluators and exhibition developers and is the most prestigious award for museum exhibitions in North America. Judges from each committee meet in Washington, D.C., to deliberate over exhibitions from all museum types, including art, history, science and others in a rigorous entry process. 

Quarcoopome and Swarupa Anila, DIA head of interpretation, whose team developed the exhibition interpretation, accepted the award on behalf of the DIA. Also in attendance from the museum were Jennifer Czajkowski, executive director of learning and interpretation, and Matt Sikora, director of evaluation.

“It’s gratifying to see Through African Eyes recognized with this important award from our museum colleagues,” said Graham W. J. Beal, DIA director. “The innovative work on Through African Eyes represents the DIA’s commitment to high-quality, meaningful exhibitions that carried forward to the recent exhibition Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus and will be present again in the upcoming Fabergé: The Rise and Fall. We are fortunate to have a talented staff that creates exceptional experiences with great art that only the DIA can bring to Detroit.”


The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), one of the premier art museums in the United States, is home to more than 60,000 works that comprise a multicultural survey of human creativity from ancient times through the 21st century. From the first Van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self-Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera's world-renowned Detroit Industry murals (1932–33), the DIA's collection is known for its quality, range, and depth. The DIA’s mission is to create opportunities for all visitors to find personal meaning in art.

Programs are made possible with support from the City of Detroit.

Contact:   Pamela Marcil    313-833-7899