Rewarding (and Awarding) the Spirit of MSA

May 9, 2018

From April 26 – 30, over  600 MSA members—museum store professionals and vendors alike—had the opportunity to come together to learn, buy, sell, network and explore at MSA FORWARD 2018: Mastering Non-Profit Retail, the 63rd annual Retail Conference & Expo, in Washington, DC.

Our time in DC was incredible! We took part in a wide variety of relevant learning sessions designed for all our MSA members. We made new connections during our many capital city excursions and networking events. At our top-notch expo, we discovered extraordinary products surely destined to be top-sellers in our stores.

In addition, during the Membership Meeting and again at the Gala, we recognized and celebrated several of our MSA leaders for their creativity, passion, hard work and dedication that make the MSA community so special and so vibrant. As non-profit retail professionals, we constantly challenge ourselves to create new products, stunning displays, and innovative processes for the businesses we oversee. We tackle each challenge with energy and verve – and we always know there is a colleague at the other end of that phone line when we need some sage advice.

We are thrilled to recognize the 2018 winners for the MSA Buyer’s Choice Awards, the MSA Recognition Awards and the MSA Board Awards for outstanding service to our association.

MSA Buyer’s Choice Awards

Each year at MSA FORWARD, buyers select their favorite new items in the categories of Books and Multimedia, Custom Design, Eco-Friendly, Education and Games, Fashion, and Paper Products. This year with over 20 products on the ballot, buyers were faced with hard decisions across all categories — but six creative, eye-catching and forward-thinking products ended up taking home the coveted awards.

  • Books and Multimedia:

“Jazz in Available Light: Illuminating the Jazz Greats from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s Stories & Photographs” from Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. Through both personal stories and stunning photographs captured behind the scenes, this book allows you to lose yourself in this bygone era of jazz that celebrates dozens of the most recognized and formidable jazz artists.

  • Custom Design:

African Art Earrings by Kinzoku Customs. Inspired by the patterns found in the Barnes Foundation’s renowned African Art Collection, these custom enamel earrings represent a modern take on ancient rhythms.

  • Eco-Friendly:

BAMBOO Jewelry by California Pacific Designs. Inspired by endangered wildlife and crafted by kiln-firing glass onto recycled silver, then packaged in eco-friendly bamboo gift boxes, BAMBOO Jewelry is one of the greenest jewelry lines produced.

  • Education and Games:

“It’s Hard to Get a Handle on Modern Art” Cup from Unemployed Philosophers Guild. UPG’s porcelain teacup, made in the style of a traditional Japanese yunomi, is debossed with original portraits depicting 65 great modern artists – from Courbet to Warhol.

  • Fashion:

Bespoke Project from STEWART/STAND®. This is a custom project developed in partnership with museums that offers reproduction quality printed accessories inspired by an institution’s work of art, architectural detail, or brand identity.

  • Paper Products:

ZentangleSphere® by Wizheads. This art based on the Zentangle method lets anyone draw patterns on flat pieces of pre-cut cardstock and then later assemble them into a sphere that reduces stress while promoting creativity.

MSA Recognition Awards

These annual awards acknowledge the essential role that nonprofit retail professionals and museum store vendors play in the success of cultural institutions. New for 2018 – two Museum Store Sunday awards!

Product Development:

  • Winner: National Mall and Memorial Parks – Eastern National

A customized  virtual reality headset to enhance their Timelooper app that shows the changing landscape of Washington DC or interprets moments in history, such as Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at the Lincoln Memorial.

  • Finalist: de Young – Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which created Stanley Mouse “Summer of Love” Limited Edition Silkscreen Poster .
  • Finalist: Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, which created a trouser sock using the artwork of Nova Scotia Folk Artist Maud Lewis.

Vendor of the Year:

Winner: MP Barcelona — recognized for their high quality and unique products, great customer service, and ongoing partnerships with MSA buyers as well as sponsorships of MSA initiatives. . Their products are recognized, both nationally and internationally, for their devotion to design and excellence in execution.

Visual Merchandising:

  • Winner: Filoli Historic House and Garden —Designed to celebrate the Autumn change in bird populations and activities at Filoli, their display combined books on birds, bird themed home décor, and custom product utilizing Audobon images of bird species found on their property.
  • Finalist: Mint Museum of Art for its creation of a spring garden setting for an exhibition on the designs of Oscar de la Renta, who drew inspiration from the beauty found in nature.

Web Presence:

  • Winner: The Preservation Society of Newport County —for their website with lifestyle branding elements and social media that builds brand support across demographic groups and is geared to reach an audience outside of their local region.
  • Finalist: Japanese American National Museum for their store’s website presence that connects with all facets’ of their museum’s website.

Pop-Up Store or Store Special Event:

  • Winner: Asia Society — for its “SINGAPORE DESIGN NOW”, a retail showcase presenting a collaboration between Asia Store and a select group of Singapore designers, celebrating their artistic visions and providing a glimpse into the vibrancy and multiculturalism of Singapore.
  • Finalist: Columbia River Maritime Museum for its “Survival Store”  that displayed everything you could possibly want or need to survive the elements or help you get rescued in an emergency .
  • Finalist: New- York Historical Society which created “The Eloise at the Museum Shop” as an immersive retail experience for visitors exiting their Eloise at the Museum exhibition.

Museum Store Sunday Event (Institution):

  • Winner: Preservation Society of Newport County —who worked with Applewood Books to create the content for a personalized souvenir book for The Breakers visitor on Museum Store Sunday. Using the Applewood Book Party Van, all MSS visitors could have their photo taken and used as the cover of their own personalized souvenir book of their visit.
  • Finalist: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, whose MSS event included special offers to both members and non-members as well as two artisan trunk shows.

Museum Store Sunday Event (Vendor):

  • Winner: DONA Scarves — who created a Florida souvenir scarf using the MSA logo to emulate a road map of Florida’s museums. The scarf was specifically made to debut on the launch of Museum Store Sunday and to generate support of the MSA Florida Chapter scholarship fund.

MSA Board Awards

Each year, MSA’s Board of Directors has the opportunity to recognize individuals within the Museum Store Association who exemplify the MSA spirit—leaving a lasting impact on MSA and paving the way for the association’s future. This year, these awards took four forms: the MSA Service Award, MSA Merit Award, MSA Next Award and M Award.

MSA Service Award:

This award is given in recognition of outstanding service or a contribution to the association by a member or non-member. This year the MSA Board of Directors chose to recognize three individuals:

  • Angela Colasanti is the President and Designer of VIELÄ Jewelry and MSA member, volunteering on both the MSA Advocacy Committee and the MSA Marketing & Communications Committee. Last year, Angela led the design and construction of the Museum Store Sunday website. She diligently worked to create the site’s visual aesthetic, architecture, and content- incorporating the new MSS brand identity, integrating a museum store locator, and building a participant database. An extraordinary success, the MSS site had over 36,000 visits in the two months it was available before Museum Store Sunday.
  • Kristen Daniels is the President of Kamibashi and an MSA member. Last year Kristen sent a proposal to the MSA Board, outlining her idea for a forum that would allow buyers and vendors to talk openly about merchandise and business without the formality of Shop Talk — and volunteering to  take the helm.  And the Buyer Vendor Friendly Forum was born!  Kristen spends every week posting topics, answering questions, and being a champion of both the BVFF and the MSA.
  • Joanne Whitworth is the Communications & Media Manager for the Association for Cultural Enterprises (ACE) headquartered in the United Kingdom. She is also a member of the MSA Advocacy Committee and a main contributor to the Museum Store Sunday initiative on the global front. Jo was the lead on Museum Shop Sunday (as the Brits like to say), singlehandedly making a great success of year one by pulling in over 125 cultural venues in the UK, Ireland, and even Hungary.

MSA Merit Award:

In order to honor those who have significantly contributed to the improvement of MSA, the Merit Award can be given to those who are current members or sponsors for five years or more, have volunteered at the annual meeting, served on a committee or task force, and have been involved with MSA at the chapter level. This year the MSA Board of Directors chose to recognize two individuals:

  • David Graveen/Popcorn Custom Products — At conferences, in MSA’s magazines, blog posts, and various MSA initiatives, David has been an MSA presence for many years — giving both financial and in-kind support to innumerable MSA activities. He has a tremendous ability to articulate the importance of MSA and the uniqueness of our community and industry as seen in his continuing volunteerism and two year service as Vendor advisor to the MSA board of directors. He continually demonstrates how, through small and large gestures, always selfless, we can have a meaningful impact.
  • Mary Christensen/Museum of Flight —Mary’s commitment to MSA has informed her work at the Chapter level as well as service on the National Board as a Director at Large. Her input on the Board Development Committee has been invaluable in helping to identify and shape the next leaders of MSA. Her involvement with MSA is a huge benefit to all who meet her – connecting old and new friends and colleagues in our association – and forging networks of information so valuable to us all.


This award was created to honor a young and/or emerging professional whose efforts inspire future museum retail professional leaders through unique contributions that benefit all MSA members.

  • Aubrey Herr/The Walters Art Museum — Aubrey Herr is a millennial on a mission, using her non-profit retail skills to advance rapidly at the Walters Art museum to Assistant Manager of Retail Operations. Currently serving as the Mid-Atlantic Chapter Vice President, Aubrey is also the co-chair of MSA NEXT.

MSA “M” Award:

Not every year does the Board decide to bestow the coveted “M” award- the highest award given in MSA.  To receive the “M” award the recipient must have shown outstanding dedication and loyalty to the association through creativity, effectiveness and the spirit of volunteerism and support.

Stuart Hata/de Young and Legion of  Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco — Throughout his many years with MSA, Stuart has been the exemplar of making a career in non-profit retail. His longtime dedication to our community, both as an industry expert in publications and helpful guru, are legendary. His service on the board in recent years solidified his investment in our association, as he spearheaded the 2016-19 strategic plan, refocusing the association on MSA’s core mission and member value. As past president, he continues to dedicate many hours of volunteer service to MSA through active committee work, spearheading our marketing and communications initiatives, among many other things. His dedication and commitment to this organization continue to set an example for leadership.

Congratulations to the award recipients and finalists! And sincere thanks to everyone in our community who makes contributions toward the success and future of the Museum Store Association.

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