MYSTIC, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Mystic Aquarium today received the National Medal for Museum and Library Service at the White House from Michelle Obama. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor conferred on museums and libraries for service to their communities.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is celebrating its 20th year of saluting institutions that make a difference for individuals, families and communities. Mystic Aquarium is the only aquarium or zoo nationwide to be awarded an IMLS Medal this year, and the first aquarium to receive the award since the Tennessee Aquarium in 2009.
Dr. Stephen M. Coan, President and CEO of Sea Research Foundation, parent of Mystic Aquarium, accepted the award from Ms. Obama. He was joined by Justin Richards, a graduate student in marine biology at the University of Rhode Island, who visited Mystic as a child and later while studying at Connecticut College. He is conducting research at the Aquarium on Beluga whales.
Connecticut Senators Richard Blumenthal and Christopher S. Murphy and Rep. Joe Courtney supported Mystic Aquarium for the award, noting its role as a tourist attraction and the largest informal science education provider in Connecticut. Stonington Public Schools cited the Aquarium’s exemplary work with young people with intellectual disabilities and the Boys & Girls Club of Stamford extolled its educational programming for underserved communities.
“It is an honor of the greatest magnitude to be recognized as a top institution among so many worthy candidates across the country,” said Dr. Coan. “We have worked hard with our many educational and public engagement programs to make Mystic Aquarium an enjoyable family destination that seeks to steward our oceans and aquatic creatures, and helps everyone learn about and understand the wonderful and fragile ecosystem around them.”
Mystic Aquarium is part of Sea Research Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3), and is counted among the nation’s leading aquariums with more than 300 species and an extensive collection of marine mammals, including New England’s only Beluga whales. The Aquarium is a pioneer in offering guests up-close encounters with a wide range of marine animals. Sea Research’s mission is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through education, research and exploration. www.mysticaquarium.org