OMA Award Spotlight - Christopher Kenney

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 2019 OMA Award of Achievement winners throughout the month with our OMA Award Spotlight. We are featuring these Award Winner Spotlights 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 2019 award winners! 

Today, we'll be featuring our winner for the 2019 award for Professional of the Year.

Christopher Kenney - McKinley Presidential Library & Museum


Christopher Kenney’s passion for history, education and museums extended well beyond his role as Director of Education at the William McKinley Presidential Library & Museum.  Chris demonstrated a consistent and long-term dedication not just to his Museum, but to his greater community and the people with whom he shared that community.  For Chris, his work wasn’t just a job, but an opportunity to share his love of and passion for history with all he could.

Since starting at the museum in 2001, Chris coordinated fieldtrips for over 10,000 students annually (securing bussing grants to facilitate many of these visits), created a series of award-winning school programs titled “Ohio & You,” authored three books and myriad articles, made numerous radio and television appearances as a President McKinley authority, served for 13 years as a Region 5 Ohio History Day Coordinator, and created countless educational programs for the museum as well as in partnership with area organizations.

A truly selfless professional and devoted public historian, he worked tirelessly to teach visitors, especially children, about history and community. Chris literally embodied the history he loved, making President McKinley come to life through his first-person interpretation, and used his talents playing the piano and open-hearth cooking  to enhance the museum’s events. In just one example of many in how Chris found creative ways to spark a love of history and museums through his programs, he was known to make special badges for the area Scout programs related specifically to their McKinley camp-in the children could keep a reminder of their time at the museum.

The museum community in Ohio is deeply saddened by his loss.  But Christopher’s work, his passion, and his legacy will continue to live on - not just at the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, but also at the other institutions he worked closely with and in the hearts of those in whom he inspired a similar love of history.

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 2020 award for Professional of the Year!  Learn more here.


Kim Kenney the Award on Her Behalf of Her Husband, Christopher, During the OMA 2020 Virtual Awards Ceremony

One of the features of OMA's 2020 Virtual Awards Ceremony was being able to recognize our honorees "accepting" their award via video message. See below for Kim Kenney's award acceptance video on behalf of her husband, Christopher.

Christopher Kenney (Kim Kenney) 2019 OMA Award Acceptance Video