American Alliance of Museums Honors Former WAM Director Dr. Lyndel King with 2021 Award for Distinguished Service to Museums
(1981 - 2020) Weisman Director and Chief Curator Lyndel King is pictured in a blue shirt, scarf and statement necklace at the museum

On June 7, at the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) Annual Meeting, the Board of Directors of AAM, the only organization representing the entire scope of the museum community, honored Dr. Lyndel King with the Award for Distinguished Service to Museums. This award recognizes Dr. King’s exemplary work as Director and Chief Curator of the Weisman Art Museum (WAM), University of Minnesota. Since 1980, the Award for Distinguished Service to Museums has recognized an individual’s significant and sustained contributions to the field over a career of 20+ years. Dr. King is the first director of a Minnesota-based museum to receive this national honor from AAM.

Director and Chief Curator of WAM from 1981–2020, Dr. Lyndel King has received this award in honor of her transformative work leading the museum, and for the dedication of her time, talent, and experience throughout her career to enrich the museum field nationally and internationally.

King’s 40-year career at the Weisman transformed the institution into one of the most influential university museums in the United States. During her time at WAM, she increased the collections by 64% and the museum’s physical size grew by 550%. Through her leadership at the museum, her involvement with international museum groups, and through conducting seminars around the world on museum practice, King encouraged museums to be reflections of their communities and to play a role in bringing diverse communities together. She regularly served on peer review committees for the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Institute of Museum and Library Services, several Minnesota state agencies, and as an accreditation reviewer for AAM.

Throughout her career, King championed women by hiring, mentoring, and promoting them across the field. She is widely recognized for adding a significant number of works by women artists to WAM’s collection, in addition to featuring prominent exhibitions of Latin American art, African art, and Native American art. King particularly emphasized modeling the highest standards of inclusion and accessibility with students—recognizing that students are the future museum staff, supporters, donors, and trustees of museums.

An effective leader, a strategic thinker, and a generous colleague, King was regularly tapped for volunteer leadership positions during her career. She served on American Alliance of Museums’ Board of Directors (2005-2011), as well as on the boards of the American Federation of the Arts; Association of Art Museum Directors; Association of College and University Museums; ICOM-University Museums and Collections, ICOM-USA, Partners for the Americas Minnesota-Uruguay; College of Visual Arts, St Paul; Hill Museum and Manuscript Library; Russian American Cultural Center; Upper Midwest Conservation Association; Schubert Cub; and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts.

About the American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community. For more information, visit