CLEVELAND (March 18, 2021) – The Institute of Museum and Library Services announced today that Great Lakes Science Center is one of 15 museum finalists for the 2021 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries that demonstrate significant impact in their communities. A total of 30 organizations have been selected as finalists this year: 15 museums and 15 libraries. For more than 25 years, the award has honored institutions that demonstrate excellence in service to their communities.

“This recognition is a community achievement that celebrates our commitment to be co-creators with our educational, civic and workforce partners,” said Science Center President & CEO Kirsten Ellenbogen. “Great Lakes Science Center is honored to be a finalist for the nation's highest award for museums. It is a true testament to the dedicated and innovative teamwork of the Science Center’s staff, volunteers and board.”

Nomination letters of support pointed to the Science Center’s work as a vital community resource, highlighting their deep partnership with Cleveland Metropolitan School District. The Science Center is home of the 9th grade of the District’s award winning MC2STEM school; they address inequities in resources and training by supporting competitive robotics teams in Cleveland schools, and they partner on comprehensive programming that reaches every 6th and 7th grade class in the District. This partnership is notable for recently growing to take on difficult digital capacity challenges with a groundbreaking program for 8th graders that builds skills with emerging technologies such as Industrial Internet of Things, cybersecurity, and blockchain in collaboration with local workforce partners. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, and local teacher and school district leadership were among those who wrote letters of support that noted the Science Center’s inventive resilience in finding safe ways to continue fulfilling their mission during the pandemic.

There are more than 35,000 museums in the United States, according to a recent study by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Since the inception of the award, just 105 museums have received the National Medal. Last year, during the pandemic, no National Medals were awarded.

"The revival and reinstitution of the National Medals by IMLS is another signal of recovery and renewal in the nation’s very challenging—but very hopeful—times,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “We are celebrating not only the ongoing excellence of the best of our museums and libraries, but their extraordinary efforts through the pandemic, the recession, the racial justice protests, and national divisions to serve, heal, and bring together our communities. Congratulations to all 30 finalists."

To celebrate this honor, IMLS is encouraging Great Lakes Science Center community members to share stories, memories, pictures, and videos on social media as part of the Share Your Story campaign, using the #IMLSmedals hashtag, and engage with IMLS and the Science Center on Facebook and Twitter on April 5. Be sure to tag the Science Center with @GLScienceCtr and #StayCuriousCLE as you join in the celebration. For more information about the National Medal, please visit the IMLS website.

National Medal winners will be announced in late spring. Representatives from winning institutions will be honored for their extraordinary contributions during a virtual National Medal Ceremony this summer.

To see the full list of finalists and learn more about the National Medal, visit the IMLS website.

About Great Lakes Science Center
Great Lakes Science Center, home of the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, makes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) come alive for more than 300,000 visitors a year through hundreds of hands-on exhibits, temporary exhibitions, the Cleveland Clinic DOME Theater, Steamship William G. Mather, daily science demonstrations, seasonal camps, and more. The Science Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit institution, is supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. Visit for more information.

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. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.