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Discovery Museum Recognized as a 2024 Recipient of the Nation’s Highest Museum and Library Honor


ACTON, Mass.—The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced Discovery Museum of Acton, MA today as one of 10 recipients of the 2024 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities. Over the past 30 years, the award has celebrated institutions that are making a difference for individuals, families, and communities.

“IMLS is delighted to announce the 10 recipients of the 2024 National Medal for Museum and Library Service,” said IMLS Acting Director Cyndee Landrum. “These institutions and their dedicated staff are stepping up to anticipate and meet the needs of their individual communities. From New York to Arizona, these 10 recipients are unparalleled sources of education, health, jobs, and cultural resources, bridging the gaps of distance, resources, and experience for community members. We look forward to honoring their accomplishments in Washington, DC, this summer!”

Discovery Museum’s mission is to “spark delight in learning by igniting curiosity and creativity in children and adults as they discover together the joys of science, nature, and play.” Throughout its 42-year history, the Museum has used a hands-on, low-tech approach to provide meaningful, playful, STEM-based learning experiences for kids, families, and students. A strong focus on removing economic, physical, developmental, and other barriers to participation provides for a series of access programs that result in 25% of the Museum’s annual audience being served for free or nearly free.

Discovery Museum’s fully accessible Discovery Woods nature playscape and treehouse serve as a focal point for outdoor, nature-based, environmental experiences, encouraging kids and families to reap the benefits of spending time in nature. The entire Museum campus is accessible, with facilities, grounds, and exhibits all reimagined and redeveloped to be made inclusive in every way. For school students, Discovery Museum’s engaging, materials-rich, hands-on STEM workshops in school classrooms served more than 53,000 students in 116 towns in 2023, the largest STEM-focused museum outreach program in Massachusetts. Discovery Museum is the first children’s museum in the country to produce all its own electricity onsite and unique in its role as one of the largest nonprofit community solar providers in the state, with four nonprofits and 11 low-income homes operating on discounted clean energy thanks to the Museum’s production.

Selected from 30 national finalists, the 10 recipients of the 2024 National Medal for Museum and Library Service represent institutions that provide dynamic programming and services that exceed expected levels of service. Through their community outreach, these institutions bring about change that touches the lives of individuals and helps communities thrive.

“We are deeply honored and proud to be recognized with a 2024 IMLS National Medal for our work, and very grateful to the broad community of visitors, supporters, donors, and community partners who make that work possible,” said CEO Marie Beam. “For our board and staff, this national recognition both reinforces the value of our work to support children and families and will serve as a platform from which to expand our reach and depth of impact in meaningful ways. Along with our operational and educational priorities around environmental sustainability, we will work to find more ways to make our science, nature, and playful learning experiences accessible to all kids, families, and students—despite barriers such as cost, developmental differences, sensory sensitivities, physical abilities, parental incarceration, refugee status, cultural approaches, or learning styles.”

The award will be presented at a ceremony this summer in Washington, DC. For a complete list of 2024 recipients and to learn more about the National Medal awardees, 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. IMLS envisions a nation where individuals and communities have access to museums and libraries to learn from and be inspired by the trusted information, ideas, and stories they contain about our diverse natural and cultural heritage. To learn more, visit  www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

About Discovery Museum

Discovery Museum is a hands-on museum that blends science, nature, and play, inspiring families to explore and learn together. The museum and its Discovery Woods accessible outdoor nature playscape and giant treehouse blend the best of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) learning on a beautiful 4.5-acre campus abutting 180 acres of conservation land in Acton, MA, about 20 miles west of Boston. Originally founded in 1982 and expanded to two museums in 1987, the museum reopened in a single, 16,000sf accessible building after a complete renovation and expansion in early 2018. Hands-on, open-ended exhibits developed by professional educators inspire curiosity and exploration, providing a fun and engaging experience for children and adults to discover their world together. Serving families and schools from towns throughout the region, the museum is devoted to informal education that enhances classroom learning. Discovery Museum is committed to accessibility and is a proud recipient of the Massachusetts Commonwealth Award, the only winner in the Access category, and a LEAD® Community Asset Award from The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

In 2024 Discovery Museum was awarded a National Medal for Museum Service from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the nation’s highest honor awarded to museums.

For more information, please visit www.discoveryacton.org. Discovery Museum is a community-supported non-profit organization.

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