MassMu named as OMA Institution of the Year

MassMu named as OMA Institution of the Year

The Massillon Museum will be named the Ohio Museums Association’s 2019 Institution of the Year for its MassMuX2 expansion project.


At the Ohio Museums Association annual conference on June 21, the Massillon Museum will be named the organization’s 2019 Institution of the Year for its MassMuX2 expansion project.

The awards ceremony will be held virtually, but OMA’s master of ceremonies for the evening, Jason Crabill, board president, will treat the event as a black-tie awards show. MassMu executive director Alexandra Nicholis Coon and her staff will prerecord an acceptance speech to be shown during the program.

“This project is more than a decade in the making, from the moment the museum’s staff and board committed to realizing a long-time dream — and need — to expand,” Coon said. “Four board chairs saw this project through, from property acquisition through occupancy of the new and renovated buildings. For 87 years the Massillon Museum has served its community through fostering opportunities for collaboration, celebrating artists and preserving history. It is a cultural hub and downtown anchor, and it is for everyone. We needed to grow so we could remain relevant and accessible and continue to host quality programs for this and future generations.”

When he learned of the OMA award, State Sen. Kirk Schuring said, “The Massillon Museum is a tremendous asset to the city of Massillon. It has had a long-standing reputation as being one of the finest museums in Ohio. That reputation has been validated by the Ohio Museums Association recognizing the Massillon Museum as its Institution of the Year. Congratulations to Alex Coon and her team for their outstanding work.”

Nominations and entries from the field were considered by a distinguished panel of judges, selected to represent the diversity of the museum community, which includes arboretums; aquariums; anthropology, art, ethnic, general, history, natural history and children’s museums; art centers and galleries; botanical gardens and nature centers; heritage centers; historic houses, parks and sites; historical societies, planetariums, science and technology centers; and zoos.

The Massillon Museum’s expansion added 18,000 square feet including 47% more gallery space. It addressed accessibility, safety, storage and workspace needs.

The project facilitated creation of a new Studio M gallery for contemporary artists; Gessner Hall, an auditorium for hosting lectures, receptions and events; the new Paul Brown Museum and Library; all-new permanent collections galleries; and a redesigned shop, a sensory room, a ceramics studio, a renovated café and green space.

The Paul Brown Museum storage area; consolidated offices; a conference room; a quarantine room, where incoming objects are observed before introduction into gallery and storage spaces; and a small events-preparation area now add to behind-the-scenes work spaces.

Ready to open March 14, the dedication event was canceled because of the pandemic. MassMu will reopen Friday, June 26 with exhibitions that have not yet been seen by the public and with thorough safety precautions for the well-being of the staff and guests. Visitor information is available at

Bob and Nancy Gessner chaired the museum’s campaign to expand. Lead funding for the project was provided by a number of foundations including The Timken Foundation, Stark Community Foundation, Fred F. Silk Community Foundation, Hoover Foundation, Paul & Carol David Foundation and Deuble Foundation; by local businesses like MCTV Inc. and Shearer’s; and state capital budget support by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission. The project architects were DLR Group, and construction was performed by Dunlop & Johnston.

A visit to MassMu is always free. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 2-5 p.m.

The Massillon Museum is located at 121 Lincoln Way E. in downtown Massillon. Free parking is available on adjacent streets and in nearby city lots.

For more information about the museum, call 330-833-4061 or visit

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