Taubman Museum of Art Named Finalist for 2021 IMLS National Medal for Museum and Library Service

ROANOKE, Va. (March 18, 2021) — The Institute of Museum and Library Services announced today that the Taubman Museum of Art is among 30 finalists for the 2021 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The Taubman Museum of Art is one of only two institutions in Virginia to be selected as a finalist for this award, and one of only five art museums in the nation.

The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries that demonstrate significant impact in their communities. For more than 25 years, the award has honored institutions that demonstrate excellence in service to their communities. Since 1996, only 170 institutions have been recipients of the honor. Past winners can be viewed on the IMLS web site.

“This nomination speaks to the power that art can play in making an especially meaningful difference for individuals and communities,” said Cindy Petersen, executive director of the Taubman Museum of Art. “In recent years, our Museum has focused on using art to start new and often challenging conversations, to expand our ways of thinking, to encourage the embrace of diverse cultures, and to lift up new voices.

“Art can also be a valuable tool in helping people deal with loss and trauma. When COVID-19 hit, we adapted our outreach programs and worked with our community partners to ensure our continuous engagement of K-12 students, seniors in retirement communities, families, front-line healthcare workers, underrepresented communities, and those served by programs such as Feeding America and the Roanoke Rescue Mission.”

An example of the Museum meeting the community where they were during this past year includes the Taubman’s “Brush Pals” program, which has distributed more than 70,000 hands-on art kits, instructional worksheets and “Cards of Encouragement” to Southwest Virginians living in Botetourt, Campbell, Floyd, Franklin, Grayson, Montgomery, Roanoke, Smyth and Washington counties, many of whom did not have ready access to art.

In addition, the Museum pivoted to remotely continue its program titled “Healing Ceilings: A Community Tile Project”, in partnership with Carilion Clinic. Community groups including Burton Center for Arts and Technology, Community Youth Program, Friendship Retirement, Roanoke City and County Public Schools, Science Museum of Western Virginia LAB students, Temple Emanuel Teen Youth Group, Total Action for Progress, local homeschool groups, and more were provided with materials and prompts to paint more than 250 ceiling tiles with colorful, whimsical designs that will be installed at Carilion Clinic’s facilities to provide comfort to patients as they seek treatment.

“We humbly share the honor of this nomination with those in our community who have helped us use art to make a difference in the world, both prior to covid and also while facing the challenges of the pandemic,” said Petersen.

Members of the National Museum and Library Services Board, the presidentially-appointed advisory board for IMLS, will review the nominations this spring and make their recommendations to IMLS Director Crosby Kemper, who will select the winners.

“The revival and reinstitution of the National Medals by IMLS is another signal of recovery and renewal in the nation’s very challenging—but very hopeful—times,” said Kemper. “We are celebrating not only the ongoing excellence of the best of our museums and libraries, but their extraordinary efforts through the pandemic, the recession, the racial justice protests, and national divisions to serve, heal, and bring together our communities. Congratulations to all 30 finalists.”

From among the 30 finalists, six National Medal winners – three museums and three libraries – will be announced in late spring. Representatives from winning institutions will be honored for their extraordinary contributions during a virtual National Medal Ceremony this summer.

To see the full list of finalists and learn more about the National Medal, visit the IMLS website.

To celebrate this honor, IMLS is encouraging the Taubman Museum of Art’s community members to share stories, memories, pictures and videos about the museum on social media Monday, May 3, using the #ShareYourStory and #IMLSmedals hashtags, and engage with IMLS on Facebook and Twitter. For more information, please visit the IMLS website.

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 libraries and museums. We advance, support and empower America’s museums, libraries and related organizations through grantmaking, research and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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