Mid-America Science Museum Wins National Medal from Institute of Museum and Library Services
Hot Springs, Ark. (April 19, 2016) – The Institute of Museum and Library Services today announced Mid-America Science Museum of Hot Springs, AR, as one of 10 recipients of the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community. For 22 years, the award has celebrated institutions that respond to societal needs in innovative ways, making a difference for individuals, families and their communities. The award will be presented at an event in Washington, D.C., on June 1.
Established in 1979, Mid-America Science Museum is an award-winning, state-of-the-art science museum and the state’s only Smithsonian affiliate. The museum houses over 100 hands-on science installations, including the Bob Wheeler Science Skywalk, the world’s largest conical Tesla coil, the Oaklawn Foundation Digital Dome Theater and more. Mid-America Science Museum reopened last year after undergoing a $7.8 million dollar renovation provided by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.
“This year’s National Medal recipients show the transforming role of museums and libraries from educational destinations to full-fledged community partners and anchors,” said Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “We are proud to recognize the extraordinary institutions that play an essential role in reaching underserved populations and catalyzing new opportunities for active local involvement.”
“It is a privilege just to be chosen as a finalist, but to have now been selected as a winner of this year’s National Medal is truly an honor for Mid-America Science Museum, and for the city of Hot Springs,” said Diane LaFollette, executive director of Mid-America Science Museum.
Hot Springs middle school science teacher and community member Casey Wylie will join LaFollette for the official awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. to share the impact Mid-America Science Museum has had on her life.
“The Mid-America Science Museum is a treasure for Arkansas and the Hot Springs community,” Arkansas Senator John Boozman said. “I’m proud of the learning opportunities the museum offers and the dedicated staff who are passionate about creating a 21st-century education environment. This is a well-deserved honor that reflects the importance of this museum to our state.”
Nominated by Representative Bruce Westerman (AR-04), Mid-America Science Museum asks that members of the community help to share and highlight this national achievement with others. The recipients of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service demonstrate impactful programs and services that exceed the expected levels of community outreach. The museum is among ten winners selected from institutions from across the country for the honor.
“I congratulate Mid-America Science Museum for being awarded the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Mid-America has not only made a difference in the lives of Garland County families but has impacted generations of Arkansans. The museum’s focus on bringing science education to the masses and doing so in a fun way has made it a leader in the state and nation. Mid-America’s recent expansion continues its mission, bringing science to life for generations to come. The award from the Institute of Museum and Library Services confirms what we in Arkansas have known for many years—that Mid-America is a world-class museum providing a world-class educational experience to Arkansas’ next generation,” said Congressman Westerman. After the awards ceremony, StoryCorps—a national nonprofit dedicated to recording, preserving and sharing the stories of Americans—will visit Mid-America Science Museum to document stories from the community.
For a complete list of 2016 recipients and to learn more about the National Medal winners, please visit https://www.imls.gov/2016-medals.
About Mid-America Science Museum
Mid-America Science Museum is Arkansas’ oldest and largest science center. A 65,000 square foot building on 21 beautiful wooded acres. Our mission is to stimulate interest in science, to promote public understanding of the sciences, and to encourage life-long science education through interactive exhibits and programs. Find out more about the museum and the educational opportunities here.
About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.