Best Museum Curator - 2007
Tom Gregerson The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
The Morikami's gardens have been stunning visitors for years, many of whom never knew that South Florida had much of a history at all, let alone one that includes a significant pre-World War II Japanese population. Curator Tom Gregerson makes it his business to keep that history as well as Japanese culture in general fresh in the mind. Yamato Road, near where the Morikami is located, takes its name from a small community of Japanese farmers who flocked there to grow pineapples and sugar. Eventually, many of the farmers bought property only to have it taken away by the U.S. government when they were sent to internment camps by the War Relocation Committee. George Sukeji Morikami was one of those farmers, and he was the last one to remain in Palm Beach County. The gardens and museum are on the property he bought near the end of WWII. Gregerson has curated countless exhibits there, including "The Morikami Portraits: Photographs by Akira Suwa" and "Flora and Fauna: The Japanese Influence on Late 19th and Early 20th Century Western Art," as well as two commemorating the 20th anniversary of the museum, which opened in 1977. Gregerson also oversees the permanent collections of fine and folk arts that illustrate the lives of the early farmers.