Amazement Square a 2015 Recipient of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service

The National Medal is a program of The Institute of Museum and Library Services and is the nation’s highest honor and recognizes Amazement Square’s exceptional community contributions. The ten winning institutions (5 museums and 5 libraries) are annually honored at the National Medal award ceremony in Washington, DC.

For almost 25 years, the award has celebrated institutions that present extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service to make a difference for individuals, families, and communities. The honorees exemplify the nation’s great libraries and museums and demonstrate outstanding impact and quality of programs, services, and partnerships, exceeding the expected levels of community outreach. Amazement Square’s story is recorder by StoryCorps—a national nonprofit dedicated to recording, preserving, and sharing the stories of Americans. Learn more about StoryCorps and listen to the interview here.

Celebrations from around the state, our community, supporters and partners:

Receiving the National Medal is a tremendous honor for our museum and the people who work to create our unique environment. We continuously respond to the needs of our community and strive to make it the best place for hands-on learning. This distinction is a testament to the exceptional dedication and passion from our staff, board of directors, volunteers and supporting community—past and present.
— Mort Sajadian, PhD, Amazement Square President/CEO
Congratulations to Mort Sajadian and his team on receiving this well-deserved honor! I am thrilled that Amazement Square was selected as the recipient of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. From their unique partnerships with the region’s schools and hands-on workshops for youth who are living with severe physical and mental challenges to providing interactive, educational programming for children of all ages, Amazement Square is a shining example of how a museum can be an asset to the region that it serves. Our communities would benefit from more organizations with the heart of Amazement Square.
— U. S. Congressman Bob Goodlatte (VA)
Congratulations to Amazement Square on this enormous achievement. Receiving the National Medal for Museum and Library Service is a true testament to Amazement Square’s commitment and service to the Lynchburg community, and this award underscores the value of the museum for children of all ages.
— U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA).
Amazement Square provides an invaluable service to the community by offering children – not to mention those who are still kids at heart – an opportunity to explore and understand the world around them through hands-on learning. I am pleased to congratulate everyone at the museum on this well-deserved honor.
— U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA)
The City of Lynchburg congratulates Amazement Square for this great accomplishment.  Since the Museum first opened its doors it has been a place of wonder, amazement and learning for children and adults alike.  Amazement Square is a vital part of this city’s arts and culture community and in the revitalization of downtown.  Throughout the years the Museum has demonstrated its commitment to this community and to ensuring that everyone, regardless of background or socio-economic status, can have the opportunity to enjoy all that it has to offer.  This capstone achievement is well deserved and we are proud of everyone connected to Amazement Square.
— The City of Lynchburg
The contribution that Amazement Square Children’s Museum has made in the lives of foster children and birth families in the City of Lynchburg has been significant. The museum has graciously invited Lynchburg Department of Social Services to facilitate family visitation at their amazing museum at no cost…. The feedback from the birth families, children, social workers, and therapists has been phenomenally positive….If you could only see the faces of the children it would speak volumes. It is with a grateful heart that I can boast about the generosity and outstanding community service that the museum delivers. We are thrilled that Amazement Square has been willing to stand in the gap and in return, has changed the lives of many families and children.
— Tyger Gordon, Resource Family Coordinator/Trainer, Lynchburg Department of Human Services
LAUREL students are unique, different and special. Amazement Square takes time to get to know and understand these differences and accepts us for who we are. Amazement Square continues to strive to meet not only our students’ special needs but to make their museum program more accessible and learner friendly to others with special needs in the community. Our students are given the opportunity to take what they have learned in the classroom and generalize these skills into a community based setting. As a regional program serving only students with special needs, we have limited interaction with our non-disabled peers. Amazement Square gives us this opportunity.
— Ms. Trudy Coffer, Special Education Teacher LAUREL Regional Program
Amazement Square is a wonderful children’s museum that has partnered with our school, Carl B. Hutcherson School, to engage in learning activities for young children attending our programs for at-risk students. The museum has been creating and providing activities to foster curiosity, creativity and cognition in our pre-kindergarten students
— Polly Smith, Principal Carl B. Hutcherson School

National Medal FAQs

+ How was Amazement Square selected for the National Medal?

Amazement Square was nominated by the principal of Hutcherson Early Learning Center, one of our community partners. The museum submitted an application including information describing the museum’s history and involvement in the community. A panel, made up of Members of the National Museum and Library Services Board and the director of IMLS, selected the recipients.

+ Why was Amazement Square selected for this award?

All National Medal winners have gone above and beyond to serve their communities. In Amazement Square’s case, this has included helping the revitalization of downtown Lynchburg, reaching out to children and youth with special needs, providing free programming for at-risk children and teens, enriching our city with public art works and free public programming, and making the museum accessible to everyone through sponsored admission.

+ Is the National Medal an award specifically for children’s museums?

No, the National Medal can be received by any type of museum, as well as to public or private libraries.

+ How many museums receive the National Medal each year?

5 museums are selected annually along with 5 libraries

+ How long has the National Medal been awarded?

25 years, its first year was 1994

+ Does the museum receive anything for being awarded the medal?

Just receiving the award is a prestigious honor, but the museum also receives an award of $5,000, and is presented the award at a special ceremony in Washington, D.C.

+ What is the Institute of Museum and Library Services?

Also referred to as IMLS, this organization is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. In fact, Amazement Square has received 4 major grants from IMLS over our 14 years, which have supported various programs and exhibitions, bringing over $336,000 of federal funding to Lynchburg.

+ How many museums are there in the United States?

Approximately 35,000