Kimbell Art Museum Named Finalist for 2019 National Medal for Museum and Library Service

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) today announced that the Kimbell Art Museum is among the 30 finalists for the 2019 National Medal for Museum and Library Service for its innovative approach to providing an inclusive museum experience.

The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to their communities. For 25 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 30 National Medal finalists showcase the tremendous ability of libraries and museums to serve as vital community resources,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. “The Institute of Museum and Library Services is honored to recognize these leading institutions. We congratulate them on the work they are doing across the United States.”

The Kimbell Art Museum’s holdings include outstanding artistic achievements by international artists and important works from civilizations around the world. Since opening in 1972, the museum has offered free admission to the collection and has been dedicated to education, increased enjoyment and cultural enrichment for all. The Kimbell strives to continuously increase its outreach, and since the museum’s expansion over five years ago, it has become a museum leader in recognizing community needs. Today, the Kimbell hosts a mix of innovative and outstanding programming, promotional activities and strategic community partnerships aimed at creating a welcoming and supportive environment for all visitors, embracing every background, age, and ability.

“It’s heartening to see the multifaceted experiences of the diverse audiences in our galleries and education spaces, where visitors are truly connecting with the art in the museum,” commented Eric M. Lee, director of the Kimbell Art Museum. “I’m gratified with the success of our programs, and all of us here at the Kimbell are honored to be recognized by IMLS for the impact we have made here in Fort Worth, Texas.”

The Kimbell’s education department has built upon its long-standing history of exceptional programming for families, students and adults by prioritizing our commitment to offering more inclusive museum experiences through resources, programs and community partnerships. The Kimbell consults with accessibility experts and stakeholders to provide services such as large-print labels, American Sign Language interpretation, audio tours, hearing loops, Braille versions of informational brochures, closed captioning, CART captioning, gallery fidgets, wheelchairs, transportation between buildings and much more. A full description of these resources is available on the museum’s website. In addition to accessibility accommodations for all tours and programs, museum educators host free programs for adults with complex needs such as Alzheimer’s and/or dementia; intellectual or developmental disabilities; and persistent behavioral health disorders. Ongoing training on accessibility and engagement topics ensure that frontline staff have the necessary skills to ensure the highest-level experience for all visitors.

Furthering the museum’s work to increase public access, the Kimbell was the first museum in Fort Worth to completely translate its permanent collection materials into Spanish. Nuestro Kimbell (Our Kimbell) was established in 2016 by a founding committee of Latino civic and community leaders, and, along with museum staff, the committee navigated the planning and production of new museum dual-language resources to support a welcoming and enriching environment for all. Museum resources in Spanish include audio tours and permanent collection wall label copy, visitor brochures and family gallery guides, special exhibition wall text, docent-guided tours and bilingual visitors’ services staff. Spanish-language visitor information is also available on the website and the Nuestro Kimbell Facebook page, which now has 46,000 followers. The committee’s vital guidance led to a successful grassroots promotion campaign that includes outreach programs in local schools, a speaker series and an ambassador program. Utilizing promotional partnerships, the Kimbell has planned and produced public service announcements featuring key local Latino leaders, shared on the museum’s translated Nuestro Kimbell Facebook page.

Nuestro Kimbell was provided seed funding from The Hearst Foundation, with a $150,000 grant awarded in 2015 to design and implement the program over a three-year period. The Kimbell’s education programs, including accessibility resources and programs, are supported by a $1 million endowment from the Lowe Foundation, received in 2016. The Alcon Corporate Foundation also provided a grant for the Museum’s low-vision programs.

Finalists are chosen because of their significant contributions to their communities. IMLS is encouraging community members who have visited the Kimbell Art Museum to share their story on social media.

To share your story, please visit or and use #IMLSmedals and #IMLSkimbell.

National Medal winners will be announced later this spring. Representatives from winning institutions will be honored for their extraordinary contributions at the National Medal award ceremony on June 12 in Washington, D.C.

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 libraries and museums. They advance, support and empower America’s museums, libraries and related organizations through grantmaking, research and policy development. Their vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit and follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter.

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