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George Bellows, Polo at Lakewood, 1910 (Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, Art Association Purchase)

Earlier this month, Nannette Maciejunes ’75 stood in the East Room of the White House next to Michelle Obama. She was there to accept a National Medal for Museum and Library Service on behalf of the Columbus Museum of Art, where Maciejunes is executive director. The CMA was one of 10 museums and libraries to receive the distinction, and it’s a pretty big deal. The National Medal is the highest award given to the nation’s museums and libraries and celebrates those institutions that make an impact on folks and their communities.

“Every day, you all are pushing boundaries, defying expectations, and redefining what it means to be a library and a museum in this country,” the first lady told the honorees. “You’re not just exposing our young people to science and the arts, you’re actually putting instruments and paintbrushes and computers into their hands, and helping them blossom into musicians and artists and scientists themselves.”

Jeffrey Tucker, a CMA ArtLab mentor, and Nannette Maciejunes, CMA executive director, accept the National Medal for Museum and Library Service from Michelle Obama on May 8.

The work that Maciejunes and her team does is tough and often underfunded. But Obama urged them to stick with it. “As I tell all of our teachers, and folks out there doing the hard work,” she said, “please don’t get tired. We need you.”

We figure when it comes to art and creativity and inspiration, Maciejunes and her team at the CMA know what they’re doing. So we reached out to her for a little guidance. Here are Maciejunes’ picks for “must-see” CMA exhibitions this summer.


Mark Rothko: The Decisive Decade, 1940-1950

This acclaimed exhibition is only at the CMA through May 26, but you still have a few days to see the show The Wall Street Journal called, “enormously satisfying.”


Strings Attached: The Living Tradition of Czech Puppets

The CMA is the only U.S. venue for this exhibition, the largest collection of Czech puppets ever displayed outside of the Czech Republic.


The West Garden

This beautiful space was designed to welcome visitors to the museum. “The project allowed us to work with the City of Columbus and Columbus Recreation and Parks to provide a respite for downtown visitors,” says Maciejunes.


The Center for Creativity and the Wonder Room

This area of the Museum is a hands-on space for families. This is a real chance to engage your creativity, says Maciejunes, in areas that are designed to connect visitors with the art. “You may find yourself assembling a puzzle that depicts one of our paintings or learning what makes a great graphic novel and taking the chance to create your own,” she says.


The George Bellows Collection

In August, the CMA will welcome home much of this collection following an acclaimed international retrospective of this local artist’s work.

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