WASHINGTON NAVY YARD –The Illinois Association of Museums (IAM) recognized both the historical contribution and the people of The Great Lakes' National Museum of the American Sailor (NMAS) in March, awarding top honors in three separate categories: Museum Professional of the Year; Museum Volunteer of the Year; and Virtual Materials.

Therese Gonzalez received an IAM Award of Distinction for her years of historical contributions. Therese was responsible for all aspects of operating a museum: leading concept development, designing and curating exhibits, managing an ever-growing collection, planning educational programs, and also recruiting volunteers to help her manage it all. Her energy and efforts helped grow a small institution with a staff of one and a few hundred artifacts into what is now considered a mid-sized museum with a staff of eight and over 3,000 artifacts, the newest official Department of the Navy Museum and the only one in the state and the region.

Geoff Bender also received an Award of Distinction as Volunteer of the Year.

"Geoff is one of those volunteers who stand with us and help shoulder the workload," said NMAS Deputy Director Kelly Duffy. "Phrases that instantly come to mind are team player, invested in the mission, and dedication; but they just do not seem like enough to do Geoff proper justice. He is continuously looking for ways to better himself – watching documentaries, attending lectures, reading books all, in turn, to provide our visitors with the best experience possible."

Finally, NMAS received an Award of Excellence for its video submission, Remembering the Stories of Pearl Harbor. The museum worked to document the stories of enlisted Sailors present during the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor that occurred 80 years ago this past year. These stories and memories, as told by family members, now share the experiences their loved ones faced leading up to, during, and after this historic attack.

"We created this video to weave these stories into a larger and more general timeline so it can be utilized by teachers, interest groups, and the general public," said Duffy. "It's a free resource for whatever their teaching needs might be. It could be streamed as a special showing at a library, or even incorporated into a class period." 

The video is available online here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3qyzM2sCoI

The National Museum of the American Sailor is an official Department of the Navy museum under the Naval History and Heritage Command. Its mission is to collect, preserve, and interpret the history of the United States Navy’s Enlisted Sailor for the benefit of the U.S. Navy and the people of the United States. Find more information online: https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/museums/nmas.html.