The Children’s Museum Tucson has always been a unique local establishment, but after being selected as one of 30 finalists for a nationwide museum and library competition, it stands apart even more.
As one of only two children’s museum’s nominated — and the only museum nominated out of Arizona — the Children’s Museum Tucson is in the running for the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, considered the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries that have an impact and contribution in their community. For more than two decades, the award has been granted to institutions demonstrating innovation and public service.
“The Children’s Museum Tucson has strived to be accessible to everyone and provide all children and their families a quality, educational experience,” said Executive Director Michael Luria. “This recognition by the Institute of Library and Museum Services is proof that we are well on our way to serving our community — all of our community — with excellence.”
As many successful concepts-turned-reality do, the Children’s Museum has continued to evolve over the last 22 years of its establishment by adding new exhibits, educational programs and community events. The museum focuses on providing children a hands-on, interactive learning experience, while also giving families a uniting, recreation option focused on arts, sciences and humanities.
“Furthermore, we have strengthened our commitment to access at the museum as we believe accessibility to our play based learning experience is a right, not a privilege, for children and their families throughout southern Arizona,” said Teresa Truelsen, director of marketing.
That mentality is supported by the numbers. In 2015, Truelsen said, more than 34,000 people visited the museum on free or reduced-admission days, equating to a $240,000 investment into the community.
The museum’s participation in the Museums for All Initiative means families on public assistance can access the facility for reduced prices daily.
As a 501c(3) nonprofit, the museum is supported largely by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which offers federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums.
In May 2015, an arm of the Children’s Museum Tucson opened in Oro Valley, thanks to a collaboration of financial contributions between the Children’s Museum, the town of Oro Valley, and community donations.
The branch of the children’s museum is aimed at providing children up to 5 years old with stimulating learning opportunities. Town Mayor Satish Hiremath applauded the museum’s nomination.
“It is so exciting to see the Children’s Museum Tucson as a finalist for this national award, and it is well deserved,” said Hiremath. “Their reputation for excellence and commitment to the Tucson community are what set them apart. The town of Oro Valley was proud to partner with the Children’s Museum to open a satellite location in Oro Valley.
“They have been an asset to our children and families. We are prouder still to see this great organization — which understands the importance of early childhood learning opportunities — be recognized at the national level.”
The National Medal winners will be named later this spring, and representatives from winning institutions will travel to Washington, D.C., to be honored in a White House ceremony.
The Children’s Museum Tucson serves more than 165,000 children and families annually.