Martinsville, Virginia


Virginia Museum of Natural History nominated for prestigious National Medal for Museum and Library Service

Virginia Museum of Natural History nominated for prestigious National Medal for Museum and Library Service

The Virginia Museum of Natural History (VMNH) has recently been nominated by Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) for the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The award, presented by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), is the nation’s highest honor for institutions that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities.

"It's an honor and a privilege for the museum to be nominated for this prestigious award and we are greatly appreciative of Senator Warner's acknowledgement of the hard work that museum leadership, staff and supporters contribute to ensure that the museum delivers world-class, science-based research and STEM education to Virginians, both in our local community and throughout the entire Commonwealth." said Dr. Thomas Benzing, chairman of the Virginia Museum of Natural History Board of Trustees.

The National Medals program recognizes outstanding libraries and museums of all types and sizes that deeply impact their communities by:
• fostering a lifelong passion for learning for all people, nourishing curiosity and imagination from early childhood through adulthood, for people of all abilities and needs;
• providing access to information through advancing digital capacity, focusing on digital inclusion and access to digital and informational resources, including e-books and materials to help address workforce development and public health;
• transforming the lives of community members by being trusted community spaces for convening, connection, and conversation; enlightenment and shared thoughts and opinions; and preserving natural and cultural heritage and community memory;
• continuing to engage their communities during the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic and enhanced focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, through providing information, programming, and services virtually, or taking innovative and imaginative steps toward continuing services and reopening their physical spaces.

"The museum's location in south central Virginia allows us to conduct unique research on the Commonwealth's natural and cultural heritage, and provide science education for many underserved communities," said Dr. Joe Keiper, executive director of the museum. "We also take great pride in following through with our mantra of being 'A Museum Without Walls' and delivering lifelong learning opportunities and educational resources to all citizens of the Commonwealth through distance learning programming, traveling exhibits and outreach education. We thank Senator Warner for recognizing the museum's efforts in such a meaningful way."

For more information about the Virginia Museum of Natural History, visit

About the Virginia Museum of Natural History

The Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville seeks to increase understanding of and appreciation for the natural history of the Commonwealth through education, research, collections, publications and exhibits. The museum – an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution – is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, a distinction earned by fewer than 10 percent of museums in the United States. The museum is a member of the Association of Science-Technology Centers, Virginia Association of Museums, Heritage Preservation, and is an agency of the Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Due to Covid-19, the museum is currently open to visitors on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on all other days, including Christmas Day and New Year's Day. General admission is $10 for ages 18-59; $5 for children and youth ages 3-17, seniors 60+ and college students; members and children under 3 receive free admission. Visit to learn more.