When the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced the 10 recipients of this year’s National Medal for Museum and Library Service, two ASTC-member institutions—Boston Children’s Museum, Massachusetts and Discovery Science Center, Santa Ana, California—were among those recognized.
The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor conferred on museums and libraries for service to the community, and celebrates institutions that make a difference for individuals, families, and communities. Medal winners were selected from nationwide nominations of institutions that demonstrate innovative approaches to public service, exceeding the expected levels of community outreach.
Boston Children’s Museum is one of the oldest and largest children’s museums in the world, pioneering hands-on exhibitions and visitor-focused experiences that put children in charge of their own learning. It first opened its doors in 1913. Today, the museum is partnering across the community to address school achievement gaps that disproportionately affect Boston’s black and Hispanic children and strengthening science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programming. Boston Children’s Museum also proudly participates in the Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens Initiative.
“We are thrilled to receive the National Medal, and especially pleased to do so in our Centennial year. As the only Boston museum defined by its audience–children and families–our spaces connect the stories of parents and teachers, grandparents and teens, policymakers and innovators. For 100 years, we have advocated for the enduring value of play, and its link to the mental, physical, and emotional health of children,” said Carole Charnow, president & CEO of the Boston Children’s Museum. “Our multi-faceted exhibits and programs introduce children and families to transformational experiences and new ideas in science and technology, health and wellness, arts and humanities, and global cultures. We are grateful to the IMLS for this distinguished award and look forward to building upon our legacy by continuing to promote the health and education of all children so that they will reach their full potential and contribute to our collective wellbeing.”
Discovery Science Center (DSC) has brought science education to vast audiences over the last 25 years through its Santa Ana facility and a soon to open Los Angeles museum. With a dynamic outreach program and state-of-the-art exhibits, the DSC team has led the way in creating innovative museum exhibitions and classroom programs. By blending hands-on science activities, immersive environments, game design, and role playing, DSC is modernizing how educational content is delivered to families and students. The award-winning Eco Challenge exhibit at DSC utilizes these unique, immersive experiences to encourage environmentally responsible behavior among their community. DSC also proudly participates in the Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens initiative.
Patronage of DSC programs has more than tripled over the last decade and in the last year alone, programs impacted over 739,000 visitors and students throughout the Southern California region. Their outreach program in schools is among the largest in the nation. Its education initiatives are in 650 schools and 27 school districts across Southern California and include 71,000 field trip students who visit the Taco Bell Discovery Science Center every year.
“The National Medal shows that a museum’s impact can go beyond the walls of a single location and bring education to hundreds of thousands of students in classrooms along with satellite locations,” said Joe Adams, president of Discovery Science Center. “This Award celebrates and recognizes the hard work and dedication of our team and community leaders towards delivering a mission that is not measured in dollars, but measured in the hearts, minds, and actions of eager learners. We see this award as a challenge to continue to teach through innovation extending past museum norms, finding partners that align to our mission, and connecting to young minds.”
In addition to Boston Children’s Museum and the Discovery Science Center, this year’s National Medal recipients were: Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio; Delta Blues Museum, Clarksdale, Mississippi; Marshalltown Public Library, Iowa; National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Pierce County Library System, Tacoma, Washington; Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio; Rancho Cucamonga Public Library, California; Waukegan Public Library, Illinois.
The National Medal will be presented during a celebration in Washington, D.C. on May 8. For more information on the Medal and this year’s winners, visit www.imls.gov/imls_announces_recipients_of_2013_national_medal_for_museum_and_library_service.aspx, and to see a video about the winners produced by HISTORY for IMLS, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHYjZ4sIpUo.