Norwalk, CT – Today, Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04) announced that the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk and the Ferguson Library in Stamford have been named as finalists for Institute of Museum and Library Services’ (IMLS) 2021 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.  

“The presence of libraries, museums, and other institutions that foster children’s education is one of the many reasons families choose to live in Southwest Connecticut,” said Himes. “The recognition of the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk and the Ferguson Library during the pandemic is a testament to their ability to adapt and serve our community even in the midst of crisis. These two institutions are tremendous assets to our community, and this honor is well deserved.” 

“This is a gratifying affirmation of the uniquely important role that The Maritime Aquarium plays in Norwalk and the larger community,” said Jason Patlis, president and CEO of The Maritime Aquarium. “It’s not just the reach we have within the community, with nearly 500,000 guests and 80,000 students during a normal year, but it also is the impact the Aquarium has on our community, especially those in need through our scholarships and outreach. Our immersive exhibits, extensive educational programs and leading conservation initiatives connect our community – including those who do not have the means on their own – to Long Island Sound, its wildlife and habitats, and to the maritime heritage and culture that define our community. To be recognized this year in particular, in the midst of a pandemic that challenged our very survival and required us to completely rethink how we fulfill our mission, is a testament to the resolve and resilience of the team here at the Aquarium. 

“We are immensely proud to be named a finalist for the National Medal for Museum and Library Service and to be recognized along with other institutions around the country doing innovative, important work in their communities,” said Alice Knapp, President of The Ferguson Library. “Throughout this challenging year, the Ferguson Library’s staff found creative ways to meet the needs of our community, with programs such as Cradle to Career, which works to ensure equity and excellence in education for all children, and our Facing Racism series, which brings people together to examine the difficult topic of racism in our community. The library also worked with community partners to give away books to children and made sure our users got the help they needed, even if they couldn’t come to the library in person. This award belongs to our staff, who inspire me every day.” 

According to the IMLS, the National Medal for Museum and Library Service is the nation’s highest honor for institutions that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities. Since 1994, IMLS has presented the award to institutions that demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to community service. The six winners will be announced in May. Click here to learn more.