Tomaquag Museum recognized as Finalist for 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service

Tomaquag Museum recognized as Finalist for 2016 National Medal
 for Museum and Library Service

Exeter, The Institute of Museum and Library Services today announced that Rhode Island’s Tomaquag Museum is among the 30 finalists for the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community. For 22 years, the award has celebrated institutions that demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service and are making a difference for individuals, families, and communities. 

“The staff and board of Tomaquag Museum are excited to be among the elite group to be selected as finalists. We were nominated this year for this prestigious honor by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and are grateful for the tremendous support for this nomination we have received from UPParts, South County Tourism Council and the Narragansett Indian Tribe’s Silver Clouds Elders Committee,” said Museum Executive Director Lorén Spears.

“Congratulations to the Tomaquag Museum!” said Whitehouse. “This institution does important work preserving and honoring Native American culture in Rhode Island.  I was proud to nominate the Museum and its dedicated staff for this prestigious award and I wish them the best of luck in the final selection.”

“The 2016 National Medal finalists make lasting differences in their communities by serving and inspiring the public,” said Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “We proudly recognize these museums and libraries for their invaluable work to provide citizens with educational resources, 21st century skills, and opportunities for lifelong learning. As key stewards of our nation’s future, we salute the 30 finalists for their excellence in engaging our citizenry and expanding learning of all kinds.”   

Tomaquag Museum has contributed to the Rhode Island Community by serving as a bridge for the Native Community to other communities around the region. It acts as a liaison to promote better understanding between the Native community’s needs, history, culture and how it impacts today’s society in many positive ways. Tomaquag helps in the healing process by allowing Indigenous people to tell their stories from their own perspective and experience. The archive houses many of these oral histories. The museum’s podcast, which has already reached over 8000 downloads since January 25, 2015, is sharing some of these stories. The goal is to empower Indigenous people, engage the mainstream community and educate via our many programs, partnerships, films, books, tours, exhibits, lectures, workshops and classes.
“I was proud to support the Tomaquag Museum as a candidate for the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, and I commend the museum’s staff on this well-deserved recognition.  The National Medal for Museum and Library Service is a high honor, highlighting museums and libraries that make a unique and lasting difference in the communities they serve, and every day the Tomaquag Museum exceeds that criteria.  The Tomaquag keeps the rich history and culture of the Native Community alive for generations of students and visitors of all ages, and I look forward to their continued success with that important mission,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed.

Finalists are chosen because of their significant and exceptional contributions to their communities. IMLS is encouraging community members who have visited Tomaquag Museum to share their story on the IMLS Facebook page. To Share Your Story and learn more about how these institutions make an impact, please visit Tomaquag Museum will be spotlighted on Friday, March 18th. Please share your stories about Tomaquag Museum’s programs, events, partnerships, and other cultural programming. 

“Tomaquag Museum has been an essential part of protecting the heritage and culture of Rhode Island’s Native American community for nearly six decades. The museum provides an important space to preserve the records of our state’s indigenous people and an opportunity to teach the next generation about their history, and I am incredibly proud that they have been recognized as a finalist for the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service,” stated
 Congressman David Cicilline.

 “The National Medal for Museum and Library Service is a prestigious honor, and the fact that the Tomaquag Museum is a finalist is a testament to the incredible work they are doing preserving an important piece of Rhode Island history,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “Tomaquag’s dedication to preservation is bringing positive attention to our state and its rich heritage, and I am so proud to have the Museum involved with my Arts Advisory Committee. Congratulations to the Tomaquag team on this exciting announcement.” 

The National Medal winners will be named later this spring, and representatives from winning institutions will travel to Washington, D.C., to be honored at the National Medal award ceremony.

Tomaquag Museum is very proud to be a finalist for the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service and we congratulate all our fellow finalists across the nation. To find out more about Tomaquag Museum’s 58 year history, programs, classes, tours, podcast visit 

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 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. 

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