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June 7, 2022
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OMCA Wins IMLS National Medal, the Nation’s Highest Honor for Museum and Library Service

Thank you to Congresswoman Barbara Lee for nominating OMCA for this prestigious award!

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded OMCA one of only six recipients of the 2022 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries making significant and exceptional contributions to their communities, and we could not be more honored. Congratulations to our fellow National Medal award winners!

National recognition from IMLS is meaningful as it signifies the important role OMCA has played not only in our local Bay Area community, but as a national leader in the museum field and a model for community engagement and social impact.

Some of us at OMCA have joked that winning the IMLS National Medal is like winning an Oscar for an actor or a Grammy for a musician. It is the nation’s highest honor in our field, and we are also very honored to have been nominated for this prestigious award by our very own Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

Anyone from an employee to a board member to a volunteer or member of the public is invited to nominate an institution to the IMLS, and all museums and libraries across the country are eligible for nomination. OMCA was selected from 30 finalists nationally that all provide dynamic programming and services that exceed expected levels of service.

“The Oakland Museum of California plays an important role for all of us in learning about the many stories of our State, particularly those stories that are untold and underrepresented,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “It is a Museum that reflects and uplifts voices from our communities and from our history while also inspiring our future artists, scientists, and history-makers. This ‘Museum of the People’ encourages each of us to create, take action, wonder at the natural world, and come together to celebrate our diversity and strength as Californians and Americans.”

For more than 50 years, we have aspired to do just that -  inspire Californians to create a more vibrant future for themselves and their communities through its people-centered approach to exhibitions, public programs, and educational offerings.

“We are deeply honored to receive this award from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and are grateful to our Congresswoman, Barbara Lee, for the nomination,” said Lori Fogarty, OMCA Director and CEO. “While this recognition pays tribute to the work and service by the OMCA staff, Board, volunteers and community partners over more than five decades, it is also a call to action for our continued efforts. Museums are more necessary than ever before as places to build connection, trust, and belonging -- to foster understanding of our history so we can imagine a more just and healthy future -- and this award reminds us of this opportunity and obligation.”

Since 1994, IMLS has presented the award to institutions that demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to community service. 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;
  • and/or continuing to engage their communities during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and planning for the institution’s future, with 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 National Medals will be awarded at a ceremony this summer in Washington, DC. 

Selected press:
Oakland Museum awarded nation's highest honor for museums and libraries for the first time