March 21, 2024
Whatcom Museum’s Many Wests Receives AAM Award

For Immediate Release: March 21, 2024

Bellingham, WA — The American Alliance of Museums announced yesterday that Many Wests: Artists Shape an American Idea, co-curated by Whatcom Museum Art Curator Amy Chaloupka, is being recognized for advancing diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion.

Many Wests opened in 2021 and was a multi-institutional partnership among the Whatcom Museum; Boise Art Museum; Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene, Oregon; Utah Museum of Fine Arts in Salt Lake City; and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.

The touring exhibition, featuring artwork from each museum’s permanent collection, was presented in both English and Spanish and highlighted artists who identify as LGBTQ+, Black, Indigenous, Asian American, and Latinx – and who all stake a claim in the story of the American West. The exhibition presented opportunities to examine misconceptions, question racist clichés, and draw attention to the multiple communities and histories that continue to form this iconic region of the United States.

“It is an incredible honor that Many Wests continues to be recognized in the field for its efforts in highlighting the lived histories and expansive narratives of the region’s artists who share their truths,” said Art Curator Amy Chaloupka. “I am thrilled that, through this award, the AAM acknowledges the collaborative curatorial efforts of my colleagues in the West and at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.”

The award will be presented to Danielle Knapp, McCosh Curator at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon, at the American Alliance of Museums’ Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, in May. Through this award, the AAM recognizes the collective contributions of Many Wests’ curatorial team and their respective institutions.

Many Wests featured artists such as Angel Rodríguez-Díaz, Jacob Lawrence, Wendy Red Star (Apsáalooke/Crow), and George Tsutakawa, among many others. Visitors explored their work through three themes in the gallery space: Caretakers, Memory Makers, and Boundary Breakers.

“Caretakers” examined how artists redefine what it means to take care of themselves, their communities, and their futures. “Memory Makers” explored how artists transmit cultural memory as they bring forth neglected histories of the West through their work. And “Boundary Breakers” included artists whose representations break away from myths of the West and assert their presence despite centuries of omission and erasure by mainstream culture.

This is the second award for Many Wests: Artists Shape an American Idea. The Western Museums Association presented the Whatcom Museum with The Charles Redd Center for Western Studies Award for Exhibition Excellence in 2022.

Many Wests was made possible by a multi-year, multi-institutional partnership formed by the Smithsonian American Art Museum as part of the Art Bridges Initiative. The Whatcom Museum’s presentation of Many Wests was sponsored by Peoples Bank and Rafeeka & Neal Kloke. Additional support was provided in part by a Pandemic Relief Grant from ArtsWA (sub-granted from the National Endowment for the Arts), the Whatcom Museum Foundation, and the City of Bellingham. Media support funded through a City of Bellingham Tourism Promotion Grant. Generous support for the youth docent program and Marita Dingus’s community art installation is provided by Art Bridges.

press kit is available here with a selection of images approved for use by the media. Please note the included caption sheet that provides required photo and exhibition attribution language.

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Adrienne Dawson
Director, Marketing & PR
Whatcom Museum

About the Whatcom Museum:

The Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, WA, is an American Alliance of Museums-accredited museum and a Smithsonian Affiliate. Notable projects have included the 2019 retrospective exhibition Ed Bereal: WANTED: For Disturbing the Peace, featured in The New York Times, the touring exhibition Katazome Today: Migrations of a Japanese Art, and the co-curated, exhibition Many Wests: Artists Shape an American Idea, which was on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., in 2023.

The Whatcom Museum spans three buildings in downtown Bellingham: the Lightcatcher, Old City Hall, and the Syre Education Center. For more information about exhibitions, programs, and admission, visit