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Emily Graslie of The Field Museum Honored With 2017 Nancy Hanks Award

Category: Press Release


April 10, 2017

Emily Graslie
Emily Graslie (Photo by Tom McNamara for The Brain Scoop / The Field Museum)

ARLINGTON, VA–Emily Graslie, Chief Curiosity Correspondent for The Field Museum in Chicago, is the recipient of the 2017 Nancy Hanks Memorial Award for Professional Excellence, honoring a museum professional with less than 10 years’ experience in the field.

Graslie is the creator, host and writer for the museum’s educational YouTube series, The Brain Scoop. Launched in January 2013, The Brain Scoop aims to share the research and collections work of natural history museums with a broad audience, and across a variety of digital platforms. To date, Emily and her team have created more than 170 videos, which have been viewed 18 million times by passionate learners from all over the world.

“Emily has demonstrated how effective, personable science communication can harness social media to bring museum work to masses of people,” said Chris Norris, Senior Collections Manager at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, who nominated Graslie for the award. “She communicates effectively to a wide audience without ever talking down to her listeners. She does what so many people would love to be able to do: to wander the corridors of the Field Museum, buttonholing scientists and asking them all the questions that we all wish we could ask.”

The award will be presented during the general session at the American Alliance of Museums Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo in St. Louis on May 8. First given in 1985, the Nancy Hanks Memorial Award recognizes a specific achievement that has benefitted either the honoree’s home institution or the museum field in general. The award commemorates the lifelong support by the late Nancy Hanks of cultural endeavors, and in particular her encouragement of young professionals in the cultural arena. Nancy Hanks served eight exceptional years as Chair of the National Endowment of the Arts.

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“Emily is one of the few women who have gained a large online audience in STEM topics, and she brings tremendous creativity to make science more engaging for more audiences,” said Laura Lott, president and CEO of the Alliance.  “We commend Emily for her achievements.”

A graduate of the University of Montana, Graslie worked as a curatorial assistant at the Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum at the University of Montana before co-creating Brain Scoop in 2012 and joining the Field Museum in 2013.  She has earned numerous accolades for her work, including multiple Webby Awards and a Gold MUSE Award from the Alliance’s Media & Technology Professional Network.  She also has been listed among “Ten Women Who Changes the World” by Mental Floss, and The Guardian’s “Top 30 Young People in Digital Media.”

About the American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community. For more information, visit


Media Contact:

Joseph Klem
Director, Public Relations
American Alliance of Museums

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