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‘The Mourners’ Get Happy: DMA Wins Exhibition Award

by Jerome Weeks 16 May 2011 11:42 AM

‘The Mourners,’ last year’s Dallas Museum of Art exhibition of 40 alabaster statues from a duke’s tomb in Dijon, France, has won a national award for “outstanding small exhibition.” It was co-curated by the DMA’s Heather MacDonald and the award is being announced today at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.


Last year’s show at the Dallas Museum of ArtThe Mourners: Medieval Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy — has been awarded a prize for excellence in the category of “outstanding small exhibition.” The award will be announced today at the 10th anniversary annual meeting of the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Mourners, which is currently at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art through July, was organized by the DMA and the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Dijon in association with FRAME (the French Regional American Museum Exchange). It was co-curated by the DMA’s Heather MacDonald and Sophie Jugie, the Musee’s director. The Mourners opened in America at the Met and will continue to tour the US through April 15, 2012, before returning to France.

The AAMC awards are the only ones given to curators by their fellow curators.

You can see our Think TV interview with Heather MacDonald here.

The full release follows:

The Mourners Exhibition Wins an Association of Art Museum Curators Annual Award for Excellence, These Are the Only Prizes Given to Curators by Their Peers In North America

–Co-Organized by the Dallas Museum of Art with the French Regional & American Museum Exchange (FRAME), the Forty Individual Sculptures from 15th-Century Ducal Tomb Continue Their First and Only U.S. Tour Begun in 2010–

Dallas, TX, May 16, 2011 — The Dallas Museum of Art announced today that it is the recipient of the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) annual Award for Excellence in the category of museum exhibitions for The Mourners: Medieval Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy. Awarded the prize in the category of “Outstanding Small Exhibition,” the critically acclaimed exhibition was organized by the Dallas Museum of Art and the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon, in association with FRAME (French Regional American Museum Exchange) and curated by Heather MacDonald, the DMA’s Lillian and James H. Clark Associate Curator of European Art, and Sophie Jugie, the Director of the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon.  This marks the first time that the DMA has been honored by the AAMC for one of its exhibitions.

The awards will formally be announced today at the AAMC 10th Anniversary Annual Meeting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Members of the AAMC are eligible for nomination, and awards are determined by the organization’s membership. “Each year our awards stand as the high-water mark for acknowledging the exemplary work of curators from across North America,” says Sally Block, Executive Director of the Association of Art Museum Curators. “What is most impressive is that these are the only awards given to curators by their peers.”

“This is a proud moment for us and a great honor,” said Bonnie Pitman, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. “This singular exhibition exemplifies the DMA’s firm and ongoing commitment to curatorial excellence, to institutional partnerships, and to community engagement, all with the primary goal of connecting Dallas residents and visitors with extraordinary art and cultural treasures from around the globe.”

Never before presented together outside of France, this group of forty of the greatest masterpieces of medieval sculpture “are incredibly beautiful works that are as powerful and meaningful today as they were the day they were created,” added MacDonald. The Mourners seven-city exhibition tour is the first and only in the United States. Carved by Jean de la Huerta and Antoine le Moiturier between 1443 and 1456/57, the unique devotional figures, known as “mourners,” were commissioned for the elaborate tomb of the second duke of Burgundy. Crafted with astonishing detail, the alabaster sculptures exemplify some of the most important artistic innovations of the late Middle Ages.


The Mourners premiered on March 2, 2010, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York before traveling to six additional museums throughout the United States. The exhibition was on view at the Dallas Museum of Art from October 3, 2010, through January 2, 2011. Prior to reinstallation in Dijon, The Mourners will continue its tour in Paris at the Musée National du Moyen Âge.

Cities on the U.S. exhibition tour are:

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (March 2, 2010–May 23, 2010)
  • Saint Louis Art Museum (June 20, 2010–September 6, 2010)
  • Dallas Museum of Art (October 3, 2010–January 2, 2011)
  • Minneapolis Institute of Arts (January 23, 2011–April 17, 2011)
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art (May 8, 2011–July 31, 2011)
  • Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (August 21, 2011–January 1, 2012)
  • Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond (January 20, 2012–April 15, 2012)

The Mourners is supported by a leadership gift from the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Florence Gould Foundation, the Eugene McDermott Foundation, Connie Goodyear Baron, and Boucheron. Major corporate support is provided by Bank of the West – Member BNP Paribas Group. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

The mission of the Association of Art Museum Curators is to support and promote the work of museum curators by creating opportunities for networking, collaboration, professional development, and advancement.

About the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon

Founded just before the French Revolution, the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon is a superb combination of the prestigious architecture of a ducal residence, now the Palais des Etats de Bourgogne (Burgundy State Palace), and one of the richest collections in France. Thanks to the legacy of the dukes of Burgundy, some undisputed masterpieces from the end of the Middle Ages are displayed within its walls. Its exhaustive collections, resulting from both the founding period of the French Revolution and the curiosity of collectors, lead to the most varied of discoveries, from Egyptian art to the 20th century. Welcoming all art forms, the museum regularly organizes exhibitions, tours, conferences, workshops, and shows for a dynamic and often unusual exploration of its collections.



The French Regional & American Museum Exchange (FRAME), a formal collaboration of twelve museums in France and twelve museums in the United States, serves as a catalyst for cultural exchange between France and the United States. Founded in 1998, FRAME is dedicated to promoting French-American cooperation in the cultural arena concerning museums, their collections, and their professional staffs. It fosters partnerships, projects, and exchanges of information, personnel, technology, and resources. The projects range from a shared website to many joint exhibitions, educational resources and programs, and publications. They serve the cultural needs of each country and educate a constituency of great size, breadth, and distribution. For more information, please visit

About the Dallas Museum of Art

Located in the vibrant Arts District of downtown Dallas, Texas, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and groundbreaking educational programs. At the heart of the Museum and its programs are its global collections, which encompass more than 24,000 works and span 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Established in 1903, the Museum welcomes approximately 600,000 visitors annually and acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary readings, and dramatic and dance presentations.

The Dallas Museum of Art is supported in part by the generosity of Museum members and donors and by the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas/Office of Cultural Affairs and the Texas Commission on the Arts.