EdVenture, Madison Children's Museums among recipients of 2011 National Medal for Museum and Library Service

ASTC members EdVenture Children’s Museum in Columbia, South Carolina, and the Madison Children’s Museum in Madison, Wisconsin, were among the 10 libraries and museums selected by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to receive the 2011 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries for extraordinary civic, educational, economic, environmental, and social contributions. Recipients must demonstrate innovative approaches to public service and community outreach.

“Congratulations to each of these organizations on receiving the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The work they have accomplished is an inspiration to libraries and museums throughout the nation,” said Susan Hildreth, IMLS Director. “With innovation, creativity, and a great deal of heart they have achieved an outstanding level of public service.”

In its recognition of EdVenture, IMLS highlighted several programs and initiatives, including: The Big ED Health Initiative, a year-round series of activities promoting healthy life skills, including facilitated programming that demonstrates healthy cooking skills; Body Detectives, a permanent exhibit which opened in 2011 to teach children about chronic disease prevention; World of Work, which allows children to recognize and appreciate the diversity of jobs such as farmer, mechanic, firefighter, scientist, and builder; and EDDIE®, the four-story-high, 17.5-ton, 10-year-old boy which is a hands-on exhibit large enough for children and adults to explore the inner wonders of the human body.

“EdVenture is honored to be recognized by IMLS with The National Medal,” said Catherine Wilson Horne, EdVenture’s President and CEO. “To be selected by IMLS from among the thousands of institutions in the United States is a tribute to our leadership, our staff, our volunteers, and our supporters who all give of themselves to fulfill our mission.”

In recognizing the Madison Children’s Museum (MCM), IMLS cited its strong community engagement. From 2007 to its grand opening in August 2010, MCM involved the community at every opportunity. With a commitment to using only local people and products, MCM engaged some 15,000 citizens who donated money, time, and even artwork. A permanent installation features bottle cap art, made by 13,000 local students. The museum is also proud of programs that enable families with limited means to visit often. They offer a $1 admission for anyone on public assistance, as well as an $8 Family Access annual membership for those on documented public assistance. For adults who are caregivers to both children and elders with early-stage memory loss, MCM also offers SPARK!, an art-making program that engages three generations and often sees children taking on the role of teacher.

“We have been humbled by numerous architectural awards in the past year, but this honor means the most of all because it speaks to the core of our mission: service,” said MCM Executive Director Ruth G. Shelly. “People readily recognize us as a great place for kids to learn through play, but we strive to take service to a deeper level by becoming a resource for parents, educators, and the entire community.”

The National Medal was created to celebrate the vital role museums and libraries play in American society, and is awarded to institutions that have developed innovative ways to serve their communities. In addition to EdVenture and MCM, 2011 recipients included: Alachua County Library District, Gainesville, Florida; Brooklyn Museum, New York; Columbus Metropolitan Library, Ohio; Erie Art Museum, Pennsylvania; Hill Museum and Manuscript Library, Collegeville, Minnesota; Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond, Virginia; San Jose Public Library, California; and Weippe Public Library and Discovery Center, Idaho.

Nominations for the 2012 National Medal are due December 15; the nomination form can be accessed at www.imls.gov/applicants/detail.aspx?GrantId=13. For more information on the 2011 recipients, visit www.imls.gov/medals.

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