A pair of Bartow County entities captured two accolades at the Georgia Association of Museums and Galleries’ annual meeting in Albany Friday. Along with Jose Santamaria — executive director of Tellus Science Museum — being named Museum Professional of the Year, Century Bank of Georgia also was recognized in the business/corporation category for its support of the Bartow History Museum.
“I had actually forgotten that my name had been submitted for consideration, so when I learned that I was receiving the award, it was a lot to take in,” Santamaria said. “By the time of the conference, I had known it ahead of time so I could arrange for my wife, Maia, to be there with me.“This is quite an honor — to be recognized among your peers. But this success is not just about me, but also a tribute to the great staff that I have.”Opened in January 2009, Tellus — an expansion of the former Weinman Mineral Museum — became a Smithsonian Affiliate during its first year. The 120,000-square-foot museum at 100 Tellus Drive in Cartersville is comprised of four main galleries — Science in Motion, The Collins Family My Big Backyard hands-on science gallery, The Weinman Mineral Gallery and The Fossil Gallery — a 120-seat digital planetarium and observatory.“I really enjoy walking around the galleries on any given day watching and listening to visitors as [they] take in the exhibits, discussing what [they] see and learning together,” Santamaria said. “This is what we set out to do. I enjoy working with my staff to make things happen — whether these are exhibits, special events, programs or anything else.“We have done a lot over the years — growing the programs at the Weinman from simple tours to meaningful educational programs, then expanding the Weinman into Tellus and seeing it succeed in terms of visitation, utilization and recognition. Once again, it took a lot of us, not just me.”Referring to Santamaria’s leadership skills, a news release from Tellus states, ‘He is an integral part of the team who made the vision of the Smithsonian Affiliate science museum become a reality.” To date, Tellus has welcomed more than 1.3 million patrons through its doors, marking the millionth visitor milestone in March 2014.According to the release, “Some of Santamaria’s most recent accomplishments include co-authoring of “The 50 Coolest Things at Tellus” book and editor of the 2nd edition “Minerals of Georgia” book. In addition to coordinating initial fundraising efforts for Tellus, he has most recently assisted with raising additional funds for special exhibit galleries and upgrades at the museum, a new solar house opening this year, and four onsite electric vehicle charging stations.“While Santamaria continues to have great success and achievements at Tellus, his experience thrives beyond the Cartersville museum. He has served the museum community as a leader at the local, state, and national level and has even been a guest presenter at the Smithsonian. He is currently consulting with the University of Alabama Natural History Museum and the Arizona Mineral Museum as they both undergo renovations to improve their institutions. Over the years he has been involved in many enthusiast mineral clubs and has served as president, field trip coordinator, program director, and show director.”With the award, Santamaria joins two fellow Tellus employees who have received the Museum Professional of the Year distinction: Astronomer David Dundee in 2010 and Director of Education Cantey Smith in 2014.As Tellus staff celebrated Santamaria’s accomplishment, Bartow History Museum Director Trey Gaines also was excited for Century Bank of Georgia to be recognized for its contributions.“We nominated Century Bank of Georgia for the business award that is awarded each year by the Georgia Association of Museums and Galleries,” Gaines said. “The award recognizes a business [or] a corporation in Georgia that has contributed significantly to the development of museums. They do that through providing funding and donations or taking a leadership role in promoting museums. That’s sort of the guidelines for the award itself.“Century Bank has been a sponsor of the Bartow History Museum for a number of years and has really contributed to campaigns and other projects and exhibits and events that the museum has held over the years. ... We’re just really excited that Century Bank was chosen as the award winner this year and appreciate all they’ve done. We’re proud to be able to recognize them in this way.”Formed in 1987, BHM’s gift shop, multi-purpose room, and permanent and temporary exhibits have been housed in the 1869 Courthouse — 4 E. Church St. in Cartersville, under the Church Street bridge — since December 2010. Divided into six galleries, the permanent exhibits include “A Sense of Place,” “Bartow Beginnings,” “Community Champions,” “People at Work,” “The Coming War” and “Toward New Horizons.”Serving as Bartow’s courthouse from 1869 to 1902, the museum’s two-story brick building was utilized for a variety of purposes in the 1900s, some of which included a roller skating rink, furniture store and warehouse. Sitting vacant since the 1980s, the structure was acquired by the city of Cartersville in 1995 and renovated with $1.7 million in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds.For more information about the BHM and its exhibits and programs, call 770-382-3818 or visit http://bartowhistorymuseum.org. Further details about Tellus can be obtained online at http://tellusmuseum.org or by calling 770-606-5700.