OMA Award Spotlight -Wendy Zucal

Recognizing excellence in Ohio museums during Arts and Humanities Month

To help celebrate October as Arts and Humanities Month, and to kick-off the call for nominations for this year's OMA awards, we'll be highlighting our 2018 OMA Award of Achievement winners throughout the month with our OMA Award Spotlight. Originally published in May, we are featuring these Award Winner Spotlights again during Arts and Humanities Month to help champion the amazing projects, programs and professionals that make Ohio's museum community strong.

The Awards of Achievement are presented to reflect the outstanding quality and caliber of work by Ohio museums and their professionals in two categories: Institutional Achievement Awards and Individual Achievement Awards.

Nominations for these awards are incredibly detailed. This in-depth process helps to illustrate how these institutions and individuals have gone “above and beyond” the normal call of duty to support their institution, serve their public and advance the cause of the museum community.

Each year, the review panel is overwhelmed by the outstanding projects, innovative programming and dedication to our field as exhibited in each of the institutional and individual nominations. Congratulations again to each of our 2018 award winners! 

Today, we'll be featuring our winner for the 2018 award for Professional of the Year.

Wendy Zucal - Dennison Railroad Depot Museum System

When Wendy Zucal came to the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum in 1989, the museum was $80,000 in debt, lacked a director, had no platform, no train cars, and was confined to just two rooms.

Under Wendy’s leadership as Executive Director for the past 30 years, the Depot has expanded with over $8 million in renovations and additions, gone through nine phases of restoration and renovation, and in 2011, after 11 years of advocacy, became a National Historic Landmark.

As a community leader, Wendy saw the potential for greater community impact in 2007 and opened the Uhrichsville Clay Museum, paying tribute to the “Clay Capital of the World.” In 2008, The Dennison Railroad Depot Museum System expanded once again to include Historic Schoenbrunn Village, a 1772 Moravian settlement.

A former President of the Community Improvement Corporation and a board member of the Economic Development and Finance Alliance, Wendy knows the importance of the economic impact of museums – and The Depot’s impact to the county and state has been staggering.

The Polar Bear Express program alone brings 12,000 people to the region, with roughly 45% of those visitors coming to Ohio from out of state. With just this one program, the museum contributes over $1 million in tourism and overnight visitation. 

As one colleague noted, “Wendy is always a consummate professional, enthusiastic participant, visionary leader, and progressive thinker. Wendy is a true embodiment of this award.

Do you know someone who exudes outstanding leadership and professionalism, whose work leads to the continual growth and development of your organization? Be sure to nominate them for the 2019 award for Professional of the Year! Learn more here.