Two local museums named national finalists for community outreach

Taubman Museum of Art and Virginia Museum of Natural History are finalists for IMLS National Medal

Two museums in our region are making a difference in the community, and they are getting national recognition for it.

Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke and Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville are finalists for the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ (IMLS) National Medal of Museum and Library Service. They are two of 30 museums and libraries from across the country and the only ones from Virginia.

The award is the highest honor for museums and libraries that make a significant impact in their communities.

Cindy Petersen, executive director of Taubman Museum of Art credits their programs like Healing Ceilings: A Community Tile Project they do with Carilion Clinic and their Brush Pals program where they’ve given out more than 70,000 art kits, worksheets and cards of encouragement to schools, healthcare workers, seniors, Rescue Mission and more.

“This nomination speaks to what art plays in terms of connecting, in terms of healing, in terms of inspiration and how it brings individuals and communities together,” said Petersen.

She said making it on this list is an exciting and humbling moment in itself. Dr. Joe Keiper, executive director of Virginia Museum of Natural History is feeling that same energy.

He told 10 News there are some first-rate museums that are also finalists and they are honored to compare to them. He also mentioned this type of recognition is the result of consistent, long-term outreach.

In 2020, the museum staff’s passion for the community could be seen at drive-thru museum experiences across Virginia.

“During the pandemic we had a bit of a mantra to make sure we were always looking out toward the community not within ourselves, struggling like everyone else struggled. ‘What can we do for the community?’ was always the question being answered and I like to think that was seen positively,” said Dr. Keiper.

Winners will be announced in May during a virtual ceremony.

IMLS wants you to help them celebrate finalists with its Share Your Story social media campaign. To participate, share pictures, videos or stories of memories at these museums and libraries with the tag #IMLSMedals.

For a look at the full list of finalists, click here.

About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.