Award Details


Award for Excellence in Curation, Collections Management, and Collections-Based Research and Education

Nomination/Submission Deadline: 31 Dec 2019

Award Description

This award recognizes outstanding efforts and advancements in the curation, management, and use of archaeological collections for research, publication, and/or public education. This award subsumes four themes presented on a cyclical basis:  

  1. curation and collections management: including advances in collections intake, documentation (including data basing), maintenance, conservation, and/or accessibility; 
  2. collections-based research: advances in the use of existing collections to address innovative research questions and/or research that enhances the potential of these collections (including "legacy collections") for understanding the past;
  3. collections-based education: outstanding uses of existing collections for innovative approaches to teaching (at any level) or for museum exhibitions; and
  4. an unrestricted or general category for transformative approaches in any of these or other clearly related, collections-based activities.

This award will be presented to an individual or a group to recognize significant contributions and special achievements in the categories of curation and collections management, collections-based research, collections-based education, and unrestricted/general. It is intended that at least one award will be made each year and the category will rotate annually. The 2020 Award for Excellence in Curation, Collections Management, and Collections-based Research and Education will be presented in the curation and collections management category.

Candidates may include individuals employed by repositories/museums; federal, state, tribal, or local government agencies; academic departments; and similar institutions that have advanced the curation and management of archaeological collections during recovery in the field or during acquisition, documentation, maintenance, conservation, and/or use within a repository.

Who Is Eligible to Submit Nominations or Apply for the Award

Any SAA member may nominate an individual, institution, or other qualified recipient or agency for this award. Awardees must be members of the SAA at the time of acceptance.

Nomination/Submission Materials Required

Nominators must submit: [1] a letter (3 pages maximum) that clearly describes the nature, scope, and significance of the nominee's contributions as they are relevant to that year's award focus (see cycle in Award Description, above); [2] the nominee's curriculum vita (or that of all members of a group being nominated); [3] any links to online or social media information about the nominee's accomplishments relevant to the nomination; and [4] letters of support from other scholars, researchers, or collections managers/curators that demonstrate how the nominee meets and/or exceeds the award criteria (maximum of two letters). Please send submissions via email as a single file (PDF preferred) to the committee chair. 

Other Special Requirements


Nature of Award (e.g. monetary, medal, symposium)

The awardee is recognized by the SAA through a plaque presented during the business meeting held at the Annual Meeting, a citation in The SAA Archaeological Record, and acknowledgment on the awards page of the SAA Website.

Current Committee Charge

The committee solicits nominations and selects recipients for the new Award for Excellence in Curation, Collections Management, and Collections-based Research and Education, which recognizes an individual or a group for their significant contributions and special achievements in four categories: curation and collections management, collections-based research, collections-based education, and unrestricted/general. The award is presented in special recognition of excellence by an archaeologist or group of archaeologists whose innovative work, or repeated and enduring contributions, have contributed significantly to archaeology and the preservation, documentation, and use of the collections recovered from archaeological investigations. The award cycles among the four categories presented above.

Committee Composition

Committee composition is a chair and at least four members with relevant experience in curation; collections management in the field, laboratory, or repository; conservation; or the use of collections for education, exhibition, or research in museums


Term Length

Term length is four years for committee members, following the 4-year award cycle, with each member serving one year as chair. Individuals ending their term as a Chair of the Committee cycle off the committee at the close of the Business Meeting held during the annual SAA Meeting, and new appointees begin their terms at this time. All members require Board approval because everyone may become chair at some point in time.

Award Cycle

The award cycles through four categories: curation and collections management [2020], collections-based research [2021], collections-based education [2022], unrestricted/general [2023]. Then the cycle begins again.

Committee Chair and End of Term

Bonnie Clark [2020]

Committee Chair Contact Information

Committee Members and Ends of Terms

Dawn Rewolinski [2021], Michele Koons [2022] 

Selection or Evaluation Criteria

Nominees are evaluated on their demonstrated ability to bring archaeology and archaeological understandings to a broader public through their engagement with existing collections: to improve the conditions of the collections under their care (2020), or to use collections to make significant new advances in the understanding of significant research problems (2021), or in formal or informal education settings (2022), or through a combination of approaches and other advances in the use or care of collections (2023). Particular attention will be paid to the extent to which the nominees' advances may be generalized or extended across relevant domains of collections-based archaeology, rather than being specific to individual collections or projects.

Committee Deliberation Process (e.g. dates, venue)

The committee will review the materials and meet electronically or via telephone to select the recipient after the nomination deadline has passed.

2019  S. Terry Childs
Dr. Childs has distinguished herself as one of the leading experts on national archaeological curation and collections management through numerous books and publications over the last twenty-five years. As Manager of the Department of Interior’s Museum Program Terry inspired countless students and scholars across the United States and has made immeasurable and long-lasting contributions to the stewardship of our national archaeological collections. In her role as Chair of the SAA’s Committee on Museums, Collections, and Curation, the Archaeological Collections Consortium, and as SAA Board Member she has promoted an “archaeological curation ethic” for the discipline. She is an inspiration to her colleagues and the profession.

2018  No Award

2017  John P. Hart for the use of collections to make significant new advances in the understanding of significant research problems

2016  The US Army Corps of Engineers Mandatory Center of Expertise for the Curation and Management of Archaeological Collections