The 2012 Michael  M.
Ames prize for innovative museum anthropology 
is awarded to Dr. Candace Greene of the American Museum of Natural
History in recognition of the innovative contribution to the field of the
Smithsonian Summer Institute for Museum Anthropology, or SIMA
as it is better
Dr. Greene conceived of the
Summer Institute as a vehicle for training graduate students in the use of
museums and collections as significant resources for anthropological
enquiry.  As director of the Institute
she recruited other professionals to help develop the program—notably Dr. Nancy
Parezo who has been a faculty member from the beginning.  Dr. Greene has also secured consecutive
National Science Foundation grants to support the implementation of the SIMA
program.  In his nomination letter Dr.
Joshua Bell describes SIMA as a timely initiative “poised to serve current
developments in anthropology that make collections more central than in recent
The SIMA program provides graduate students interested in
material culture with an unparalleled opportunity to engage in intensive
training in collections-based research under the direction of faculty members
with a wealth of research and teaching experience.  The curriculum for the program is succinctly
described on the SIMA promotional poster as “putting theory and things
Each year since its inception in 2009, SIMA has hosted 12
aboriginal and non-aboriginal students from across North
America and beyond.  The Ames prize committee was
greatly impressed by the range and depth of projects described in the student
research abstracts included with the nomination.  The projects draw widely on the Smithsonian’s
incredible collections.  They analyze
historical contexts of collecting and curation, and they bring forward the
voices and agency of indigenous peoples.
The Summer Institute demonstrates the
enormous potential of museums as sites for the production of anthropological
knowledge.  As graduates return to their
home universities, and as they enter the professional work force, they will
further disseminate the innovations in museum practice and the development of
critical theory fostered by SIMA.  They
will be well equipped to contribute to academic enquiry, to enhance public
engagement with museums, and to facilitate ongoing collaborations between
indigenous communities and museums.
In sum, the Summer Institute for Museum Anthropology at the
Smithsonian fulfills all of the criteria set out for the Ames award—creativity, timeliness, depth, and
impact—to an outstanding degree.  SIMA is
a significant achievement that will have widespread and longstanding influence
in museum anthropology.  The Ames award for 2012
recognizes both the innovative contribution of the Summer Institute, and the
vision and leadership provided by  Dr.
Candace Greene that underlie its origins and continued success.
Trudy Nicks for the Ames
Prize Committee 
 AAA  San
November 17, 2012  

Candace‘s work was celebrated at the AAA CMA Reception – Alec Barker, Candace, and Howard Morphy at rightPhoto courtesy of Louise Hamby.

Recommended Posts