Huntsville, Ala. – The Huntsville Museum of Art (HMA) is proud to announce that the Alabama Art Education Association (AAEA) awarded HMA’s Director of Education/Museum Academy Laura E. Smith the prestigious 2017 Museum Art Educator of the Year Award.

“I am truly honored to receive this award,” remarked Ms. Smith.  “I would like to offer my sincere gratitude to the AAEA Board and Awards Committee for this recognition.  I work every day with dedicated Museum staff, docents, volunteers and educators who all play an important role to inspire children and guide creativity.”

The Alabama Art Education Association is a professional organization of art educators dedicated to advocating for art education by following national standards, providing membership services, and professional growth and leadership opportunities.

“For over 21 years, Laura has been actively involved in art museum education at the Huntsville Museum of Art,” commented HMA Executive Director Christopher J. Madkour.  “When I arrived, I recognized her leadership capabilities and promptly promoted her to Director of Education. In her role as Director, she has expanded the adult education programs, the monthly Drop-in & CREATE Saturday’s program, Master Artist Workshops and tours for the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind, to name just a few of her accomplishments.  Congratulations, Laura, for this honor which is so well deserved!”

Among her many duties as Director of Education/Museum Academy, Laura publishes the quarterly schedule of Museum Academy Master Artist Workshops and Classes for Adults, Children and Teens, develops and implements exhibition educational programming, along with Academy classes and workshops.

Laura also works with both public and private area schools to promote art education in the community by developing and implementing the Children’s Community Gallery, YAM: Exhibition for Youth Art Month, and the Teacher In-Service Professional Development Workshops.  Additionally, Laura works with The Alabama State Council on the Arts to implement the annual VAA: Visual Arts Achievement Program.  She also works with the local congressional office for the Congressional Art Competition for Alabama’s 5th District.

Laura continued, “Arts education is vital for the development of a child’s creativity, academics, motor skills, self-confidence, visual learning, critical thinking skills and collaboration.  My goal is to encourage life-long interest in the visual arts in our community.”

Holding memberships in numerous professional organizations, Laura is a part of the Alabama Museums Association (AMA); the Alabama Art Education Association, where she served on the board as Museum Division Chair from 2004-2005; the Huntsville-Madison County Art Education Association (HMCAEA), where she served as Treasurer from 2006 to 2009; the National Art Education Association (NAEA); the American Alliance of Museums (AAM); the American Alliance of Museums Education Committee (AAM EdCom); and the Southeastern Museums Conference (SEMC).

Throughout her professional career, Laura has received multiple honors and awards such as the AAEA Youth Art Month Museum Division Awards for 2004 and 2005; the 2003 Employee of the Quarter at Huntsville Museum of Art; the AAEA Youth Art Month Spirit Award in 2002; and the AAEA Museum Art Educator of the Year Award 2001.

Ms. Smith closed by saying, “The Huntsville Museum of Art seeks to foster understanding of the visual arts and appreciation of artistic achievement. It is a pleasure to be a part of the Museum’s mission ­of bringing people and art together through acquiring, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting the highest quality works of art and I am very grateful to have received this award.”

To view all of the workshops, classes and development programs offered at the HMA Academy, visit