Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society Honored With A 2023 Award Of Distinction


    Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society is among 14 award winners to be honored by Museum Association of New York (MANY) for its unique leadership. The Historical Society is receiving the Excellence in Design award for its WWI: The Home Front – Our Community Takes Action exhibition Catalog. The exhibit reopened on May 10 and runs through November.

    As a 2023 Award of Distinction Winner, Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society was recognized at the MANY annual conference “Finding Center: Access, Inclusion, Participation, and Engagement” in Syracuse on April 17. The award winners are being honored for their unique leadership, dedicated community service, transformational visitor experiences, community engagement, and innovative programs that use collections to tell stories of everyone who calls New York home.

    “WWI: The Home Front–Our Community Takes Action” reopened May 10
    (Photos from the Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society)

    “New York’s museums and museum professionals are reimagining and reinventing their roles within their communities, how they interpret their stories and collections, and the visitor experience,” said Natalie Stetson, Executive Director of the Erie Canal Museum and MANY Program Committee Co-Chair. “This year’s award winners are outstanding examples for the museum field.”

    “We were incredibly impressed with the quality and quantity of award nominations this year, which made the review process highly competitive,” said Clifford Laube, Public Programs Specialist at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum and MANY Program Committee Co-Chair. “Museums and museum staff across the state are demonstrating creative thinking and are inspiring institutional change.”

    “The exhibition catalog showcases what was happening on Long Island during World War I,” said Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society President Chris Bain. “The narrative is not about the war; it’s about the home front, and is a personal one. It hasn’t really been told in this way before.”

    The Excellence in Design: Publications/Graphics award acknowledges extraordinary achievement in design in Publications/Graphics. It recognizes excellence in the graphic design of a museum publication. Award winners are selected for overall design concept, creativity, accessibility, and how the museum branding and mission are communicated.

    The WWI: The Home Front –Our Community Takes Action Exhibition Catalog reflects how people on Long Island experienced the home front during the First World War. It is illustrated with primary source materials, newspapers, pictorial magazines, photographs, images, artifacts, and letters from soldiers. The catalog designers color coded sections to correlate to the exhibition installation.

    When the exhibit first opened in September of 2022, the Port Washington News spoke with Bain about the nine-room exhibit at the Sands-Willet House. Bain said, “Each room is themed. One might be on the how and why we got into the war in the first place and the next room is mobilizing the draft.”

    The Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society has gathered lots of original paperwork for the men drafted from Port Washington and the surrounding areas. Pages are displayed with photographs and names that people on the tour can see.
    One of the largest rooms in the front of the house holds displays detailing the suffragist movement. The suffragist movement began long before WWI, but the mass efforts of women across the country helped progress the movement.
    The exhibit highlights the various jobs women did during the war that men previously did, such as farming. In the suffragette’s room, a large timeline is on display to show what was going on throughout the years, which is broken down into what was happening locally, statewide and nationally.

    Display at the WWI: The Home Front exhibit.

    The exhibit continues to showcase the various contributions from organizations such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and the Long Island Rail Road. The themed rooms dive into details that many never knew. When learning about WWI in school or watching movies and documentaries about the war, everything is usually focused on the war itself and not the contributions from home. The Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society made sure to find artifacts, create displays and provide information on many facets of the home front.

    When going from room to room, a new story from a unique time in the war is told. The very last room of the tour shows everyone who came home from the war. All the stories told throughout the tour are happening simultaneously, and lots of information is provided. Because of the great detail of the exhibit, the Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society sells the award-winning 160-page color catalog.

    “There is so much information in each room, and you can’t possibly take it all in. There just isn’t time,” said Bain. “[The catalog] is good reading. It’s written in an approachable and absorbable way.”

    WWI: The Home Front–Our Community Takes Action will have an exhibit open house on Saturday, May 27. No tour, wander at your leisure from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., last entry 1:45 p.m.

    Privately scheduled 75-minute exhibit docent-guided tours are limited to a maximum of 10 people per tour. The museum is also offering tours without docents each month. The entry fee for all tours is $12. For more information, visit

    The printing and binding of the WWI: The Home Front – Our Community Takes Action Exhibition Catalog was made possible through a generous grant from The Robert D.L. Gardiner Foundation.

    About the Museum
    Association of New York
    The Museum Association of New York is the only statewide museum service organization with more than 730 member museums, historical societies, zoos, botanical gardens, and aquariums. MANY helps shape a better future for museums and museum professionals by uplifting best practices and building organizational capacity through advocacy, training, and networking opportunities. Visit and follow MANY on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn @nysmuseums

    About Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society
    The Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society is a nonprofit organization that aims to engage people of all ages in programs that highlight the lifestyles of the people and families that lived and worked on the peninsula throughout the years. Central to the Historical Society’s mission is the preservation of the Sands-Willets House (circa 1735) and the Thomas Dodge Homestead (circa 1721), which the Society operates as house-museums, serving as resources for the community. To learn more, visit

    —Information provided by the Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society with additional reporting by Julie Prisco