Awards of Excellence

2021 Awards of Excellence Recipients
2021 Honourable Mentions

Awards of Excellence 2021 – Congratulations to Our Recipients


The OMA Awards of Excellence are designed to:

  • recognize outstanding contributions to the Ontario museum community, with emphasis on innovation;
  • advance the museum profession in Ontario;
  • encourage high standards of excellence in the museum field.

Distinguished Career Award of Excellence

The OMA Distinguished Career Award of Excellence is presented to individuals who, over an extended period of time, have created a lasting and meaningful legacy within the Ontario museum community.
 Karen Bachmann, Director and Curator,
Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre
I experienced firsthand Karen’s dedication to the museum community, her commitment to innovation, and her natural leadership skills… She is undoubtedly one of the most respected museum professionals both in Ontario and across Canada”.
—Gerry Osmond, Director of Arts and Heritage, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
A proud graduate of the Ontario Museum Association Certificate in Museum Studies, Karen Bachmann began her career at the Timmins Museum in 1986 as the Programme Supervisor and swiftly moved to Director/Curator just two years later. She has seen the Museum through a number of challenges, including its shut down in 2008, relocation and reopening in 2011, and renovation in 2017. Throughout her 35+ years at the Museum, Karen has worked on over 600 temporary and travelling exhibitions. 
Karen has been actively involved with the professional museum community; she joined the OMA Council in 1989 and became Council President in the mid-1990s, before returning again in 2011. Karen has also served on the Canadian Museums Association (CMA) Awards committee for many years, and was President of the CMA in 2018-2019. Over her career, Karen has participated in a number of OMA and CMA conferences, speaking on topics ranging from travelling exhibitions to museum re-org projects. Recently, she was instrumental in the creation of the City of Timmins’ Municipal Heritage Committee and continues to work with them on local heritage preservation issues. Her work at the Timmins Museum has helped strengthen our knowledge of local history and she hopes to continue to do so for a few more years!
Promising Leadership Award of Excellence
The OMA Promising Leadership Award of Excellence is presented to emerging professionals, of any position or institution, who have shown promising leadership within the museum community. An emerging professional is an individual within the first ten years of their professional career.
Hailey Hollingshead
“Hailey works with heart, grit and undeniable talent. She is an asset to any institution or company that is blessed to work with her and have her on board”.
—Vanessa Lio, Coordinator of Heritage and Collections for the Museum on the Boyne
Hailey is a graduate of the Museum Management and Curatorship Program at Fleming College. She is confident and unafraid to raise problematic issues, even when there may be an institutional and budgetary effect. While working as an intern at the Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives (PAMA), Hailey discovered a mould issue. She was vocal, clear, and direct in her communication with facilities staff, arguing for the need to install dehumidifiers to mitigate against the rising humidity.
Hailey was subsequently hired as a Museum Curatorial Assistant at PAMA to plan a collections move. Over the course of four months, Hailey took the lead cleaning artifacts, working closely with another Curatorial Assistant, and remediated approximately 6% of the Collection. Hailey's leadership in treating and handling the Collection was evident throughout the abatement work. She trained two senior colleagues on abatement procedures when additional team members were brought in to work on the project. 
Hailey's work planning and executing a collections move from temporary offsite storage was instrumental in PAMA's move in Winter 2021. She also showed initiative and promising leadership when, on her own initiative, she developed a rehousing plan for PAMA's textile collection that was significantly affected by the mould outbreak. Hailey brings a positive attitude to
all her endeavours, and has proved to be a leader amongst her peers and a mentor to students entering the field.
Volunteer Service Award of Excellence

The OMA Volunteer Service Award of Excellence is presented to individuals who have made a significant contribution to a museum or museums through volunteer work.

Katharine Bourgon, Volunteer,
Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery
“Katharine’s work demonstrates her passion and dedication to [Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery] and her willingness to do what it takes to get the job done and above expectations. Katharine Bourgon has always demonstrated a strong work ethic and constantly maintains a positive and affable attitude.” —Alexandria Nelson, Independent Consultant
Katharine Bourgon is a former professional dancer, adjudicator, choreographer, and instructor, who has been a tireless volunteer at the Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery for the past two years. Since the Gallery hired a new Executive Director in 2018, Katharine has been a key volunteer in the implementation of many changes including a reimagining of programs, exhibitions, collections management, and their role within the local and national communities.
One of the key projects Katharine worked on was organizing and cataloguing the Gallery’s exhibition files. This project created an important resource that would help current staff and community researchers to better understand and access the nearly 30-year history of the Gallery. In addition, Katharine also worked as an Archives Assistant through a grant received by the Gallery to digitize all the permanent collection object files, enabling these documents to be accessed online and connected to our database. When her hours under the grant ran out, Katharine volunteered to continue the project, scanning documents and images for the more than 1000 items in the Gallery’s permanent collection. 
Katharine’s incredible impact on the Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery has been immense and wide-reaching across the entire institution, and her contributions are sure to be felt by both staff and members of the public for many years to come. 
Award of Excellence in Community Engagement
The OMA Award of Excellence in Community Engagement is presented to individuals, institutions, corporations, or agencies that have increased the community’s engagement with the museum or institution.
Hamilton Civic Museums and Civicplan,
Reimagine Our Museums
WOW Distinction
“Reimagine Our Museums strengthened the City of Hamilton by creating a holistic and honest dialogue about the role of civic museums in the community. This included everything from issues of representation in the exhibits to museum-specific operational issues that needed to be improved. The result is increased trust between the City and community as well as a stronger understanding of the community’s attitude, interest and support of the civic museums.” — Donna Reid, The Hamilton Store
City of Hamilton staff worked alongside the consulting firm Civicplan to create the Reimagine Our Museums project – a city-wide engagement project designed to inform the development of the City of Hamilton’s Museum Strategy. The project was intended to guide the long-term direction and sustainability of the seven City of Hamilton Civic Museums and their supporting programs. In this project, a diverse number of engaged communities in the Hamilton region were consulted, including more than 1,700 residents, stakeholders, and visitors; more than 200 groups participated to help inform the future direction of the Hamilton Civic Museums. These groups included Indigenous groups, educational institutions, LGBTQ+ organizations, conservation and environmental organizations, youth and senior groups, among many others so that every voice could be heard in the project. There were 20 points of engagement, either, in person or online, which gave more opportunities for people to engage in at least one part of the six month process. Workshops, visitor and non-visitor surveys, exit interviews, community events, and focus groups were among the key activities that were used in the project. At the centre of the communications strategy was a project website ( that acted as a hub for project information, updates and engagement. The project identified the need for external engagement with broader communities to gauge what opportunities and priorities should drive future planning, including the potential for a new Hamilton Museum. 
Reimagine Our Museums has been designated as this year’s WOW Distinction recipient. The Awards of Excellence Committee considers the work undertaken by Hamilton Civic Museums and Civicplan as a profound and impactful template for future strategic planning projects within our sector.
Community Engagement—Honourable Mention
Niagara Falls History Museum,
The Poppy Project