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American Alliance of Museums Honors Joanne Jones-Rizzi with 2018 Award for Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion

Category: Press Release
A woman smiling looking off into the distance with short curly black hair with bit of grey wearing red rimmed glasses and dangling earrings with a pink scarf around her neck.
Joanne Jones-Rizzi

For Immediate Release

ARLINGTON, VA – The American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the only organization representing the entire scope of the museum community, today honored Joanne Jones-Rizzi, Vice President of STEM Equity and Education, Science Museum of Minnesota, with its Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion (DEAI) award for individuals. She will be presented with the award during the general session at the AAM 2018 Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo in Phoenix on May 7.

Through her decades-long career, Jones-Rizzi has worked on systemic, ecological change within museums, specializing in expanding meaningful access through exhibitions relevant to audiences who do not yet think of museums as their cultural institutions. She advises museums nationally and internationally on culture, identity, anti-racism, exhibition development, and community engagement.

“Joanne has been a stalwart and vocal champion for inclusion and equity in all facets of the museum,” said Alison Brown, president & CEO of the museum, who nominated Jones-Rizzi for the award. “She plays a pivotal role in the museum’s interactions with its diverse communities. Her vision for the museum is as a collaborator, valued by the community as a safe and supportive convener of important dialogues centered on how science and culture together offer powerful perspectives for addressing community issues.”

After coming to Science Museum of Minnesota (SMM) in 2005, Jones-Rizzi served as an exhibit developer on the award-winning traveling exhibition “RACE: Are We So Different?” Over its 10-year national tour, RACE has been seen by over four million people at more than 50 museums in 27 states.

“Joanne’s work is a shining example of what museums can do─and must do─to advance important conversations about equity and inclusion in our communities,” said Laura Lott, president and CEO of the Alliance.  “We’re proud to recognize Joanne, and we want her example to inspire others in our field to lend their voices and talents to this critical priority.”

Before coming to SMM, Jones-Rizzi was an exhibit developer and cultural program director at the Boston Children’s Museum, where she led an initiative that addressed the institution-wide politics of inclusiveness, ranging the full spectrum from community partners to the museum’s board of trustees. She is the co-author of Opening the Museum, a book that reflected on this process. She has also written numerous articles exploring ideas related to identity, race, and community.

Jones-Rizzi is the recipient of several awards for her anti-racism work, including a Facing Race Ambassador Award from the Saint Paul Foundation in 2016. She advises museums nationally and internationally on culture, identity, anti-racism, exhibition development, and community engagement.

The Alliance strategic plan emphasizes DEAI in all aspects of museum structure and programming─in their exhibitions and programs, in their staff and boards, and most importantly in the communities they serve.

The largest gathering of museum professionals in the world, the Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo attracts leaders and decision makers from a wide range of cultural institutions that include art, history, and science museums; military and maritime museums; children’s museums; aquariums, zoos, arboretums, and botanical gardens; and historic homes and sites.

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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