Double the Bragging Rights! Two Houston Institutions Bring Home Prestigious National Award

Double the Bragging Rights! Two Houston Institutions Bring Home Prestigious National Award

Children's Museum Houston (photo courtesy of the museum)

TWO OF THE city's most beloved summer-heat havens have new bragging rights! The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced that Children's Museum Houston and the Harris County Public Library system are two of just 10 recipients of the 2024 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. It's the highest honor given to institutions that make gamechanging contributions to their communities.

The last time a Houston organization took home a National Medal was in 1997, when the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston was named a recipient. Furthermore, this is the first time in the 30-year history of the IMLS program that two institutions from the same city claimed the honor in the same year. The feat is a "remarkable achievement for the children and families of Houston," said Children's Museum Houston CEO Rayanne Darensbourg in a statement.

The museum has made strides in ensuring that every family in Houston has access to the best science, technology, engineering, math, literacy, cultural and arts exhibits and programming. It emphasizes experiential learning as well as equity of opportunities across socioeconomic classes and language barriers: The museum admits around 35 percent of its 700,000 annual visitors free of charge, and provides an additional 120,000-plus participants with free outreach programming every year.

For its part, the Harris County Public Library leveraged Emergency Connectivity Fund grants to provide free laptop computers and 5G hotspots to 70,000 residents. Other efforts include a robust English language learning and naturalization program, a partnership to bring library services to young men and women completing residence programs with the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department, and a fleet of outreach vehicles that provide mobile libraries at community gatherings.

"It is fitting that the Children's Museum Houston and Harris County Public Library were awarded this honor in the same year. Our missions are, in many ways, parallel,” said the library system's Executive Director Edward Melton. “In a time when equitable public education has become politicized, our two organizations step up to offer access to programs and resources that inspire curiosity and nurture a lifelong love of learning. While this award honors the achievements of HCPL and CMH for the year 2024, I believe it is all about the future and our continued commitment to educational access.”

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