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Museum Publication Design Competition

2022 AAM Awards Update: To maximize reach, engagement, impact, and learning for the museum field—as well as the celebration of our inspiring award winners—AAM awards programs are currently under review and temporarily on hold. This will likely result in a shift of award submission deadlines, previously set to align around the AAM Annual Meeting & Museum Expo. We look forward to sharing more information later in 2022 through our website and member communications.

All museums are eligible to enter the Alliance’s annual publications design competition.


  • Publications in four categories must be produced between Jan. 1–Dec. 31, 2020.
  • Any non-commercial cultural institution offering exhibits to the public may participate.
  • Galleries and publishing interests are not eligible.
  • Entrants need not be Alliance members.
  • A publication is defined as material reproduced in printed form for distribution to the public.
  • Only the finished product is submissible (no mock-ups or proofs).
  • Slides, transparencies, and photographs of entries are not eligible.


Judges will have the discretion to move a designated entry into the most appropriate entry category. All entries are automatically eligible for the Frances Smyth-Ravenel Prize for Excellence in Publication Design, which recognizes the “best of show.”

Entry Guidelines

Click here to read the guidelines.

Past Winners


June 30, 2021

About the Competition

For more than 29 years, the Alliance has recognized and encouraged superior execution and ingenuity in the graphic design of museum publications through the Museum Publications Design Competition, the only national, juried competition of its kind. Winners are chosen for their overall design excellence, creativity, and ability to express an institution’s personality, mission, or special features. The panel of judges includes graphic designers, museum professionals, and/or publishers.

Judges award the Frances Smyth-Ravenel Prize for Excellence in Publication Design to the best publication in the competition. The judges have sole authority over all decisions, including whether or not to award prizes in each of the entry categories.

This year, judges will also be recognizing entries in any category that offer creative solutions and/or innovation regardless of institutional budget size.

Competing institutions are divided according to budget: museums with institutional annual operating budgets under $750,000 and those with budgets over $750,000 or more.

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