A group of first grade students from the Chattanooga School for Arts and Sciences were among the school groups visiting the Tennessee Aquarium today. It was very fun to watch these youngsters inside the Ocean Journey building having the time of their lives. Lively discussions and laughter could be heard among them as they were touching stingrays, exploring the Butterfly Garden, watching penguins and asking our divers questions. They're studying a unit on oceans right now and this timely visit made the classroom lessons something they could literally put their hands on. This one visit to the Aquarium will likely be an experience many of them will remember for a lifetime.
Partly as a result of its tremendous educational impact, The Tennessee Aquarium has been named a recipient of the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries. The annual award, made by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) since 1994, recognizes institutions for outstanding social, educational, environmental, or economic contributions to their communities.
“Every day, the Tennessee Aquarium makes a real difference in their community,” said IMLS Director Anne-Imelda M. Radice. “Their exemplary programs respond to community challenges, positively impact people’s lives, and serve as model for the nation’s museums and libraries. I applaud their outstanding efforts and encourage others to follow their example.”
Most of us remember what the downtown Chattanooga area was like prior to the Aquarium. And it's nothing short of remarkable what has happened in the Scenic City since then. So while we are celebrating this top honor, we'd like to recognize everyone who played a role in the Aquarium's achievements.
"The Tennessee Aquarium is deeply honored to receive the National Medal and is proud of its long history of service to Chattanooga and the surrounding region," said Charlie Arant, the Aquarium’s president and CEO. "The Tennessee Aquarium has been leading the way in education, conservation, economic development and tourism since 1992. This award is a tribute to our staff, trustees, volunteers and community supporters who work tirelessly to help us connect people with nature in a meaningful way."
Only three other aquariums have been honored with the National Medal in the past. They are:
John G. Shedd Aquarium – Chicago, IL, Year: 2006
The New England Aquarium – Boston, MA, Year: 2001
National Aquarium in Baltimore – Baltimore, MD, Year: 1997
Other cities are also celebrating amazing success stories. In addition to the Tennessee Aquarium, other recipients of the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Service are the:
· Braille Institute of America Library, Los Angeles, CA
· Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, PA
· Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, Cincinnati, OH
· Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL
· Indianapolis Museum of Art, IN
· Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR
· Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa, FL
· Pritzker Military Library, Chicago, IL
· Stark County District Library, Canton, OH
Thanks everyone for supporting the Tennessee Aquarium!