Press Release – IMLS Finalist, March 2021

Media Contacts

High Desert Museum: Heidi Hagemeier,, 541-382-4754 ext. 166
IMLS: Brittany Vanderpool,, 202-248-5487

High Desert Museum Named Finalist for 2021 IMLS National Medal for Museum and Library Service

Local community encouraged to ‘Share Your Story’ with IMLS on social media on April 8

BEND, Ore. — The federal Institute of Museum and Library Services announced today that the High Desert Museum is one of 30 finalists for the 2021 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

The National Medal is considered the nation’s highest honor in the museum and library fields. For more than 25 years, the award has recognized institutions that demonstrate excellence in service to their communities.

“We’re thrilled and honored to be recognized by the IMLS as a national leader for our support of and engagement with the High Desert community, particularly during this challenging pandemic year,” said High Desert Museum Executive Director Dana Whitelaw, Ph.D. “Since opening our doors nearly 40 years ago, we’ve worked diligently to serve the region as an educational resource, a responsive partner and a source of inspiration and wonder for all who walk through our doors. Inclusion as a finalist validates the work we’re doing to offer diverse learning experiences to our community and visitors, and the importance of creating connections to our region’s arts, cultures, history and natural sciences.”

The High Desert Museum was selected as a National Medal for Museum and Library Service Finalist in 2018, as well. The medals were not awarded in 2020, and this year three museums and three libraries will be chosen from among the 30 finalists for the honor.

“The revival and reinstitution of the National Medals by IMLS is another signal of recovery and renewal in the nation’s very challenging—but very hopeful—times,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “We are celebrating not only the ongoing excellence of the best of our museums and libraries, but their extraordinary efforts through the pandemic, the recession, the racial justice protests, and national divisions to serve, heal and bring together our communities. Congratulations to all 30 finalists.”

To celebrate this honor, IMLS is encouraging High Desert Museum community members to share stories, memories, pictures and videos on social media as part of the Share Your Story campaign on April 8, using the #IMLSmedals hashtag and to engage with IMLS on Facebook and Twitter. For more information, please visit the IMLS website.

National Medal winners will be announced in late spring. Representatives from winning institutions will be honored for their extraordinary contributions during a virtual National Medal Ceremony this summer.

To see the full list of finalists and learn more about the National Medal, visit the IMLS website.


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


About the High Desert Museum

The High Desert Museum opened in Bend, Oregon in 1982. It brings together wildlife, cultures, art, history and the natural world to convey the wonder of North America’s High Desert. The Museum uses indoor and outdoor exhibits, wildlife in natural habitats and living history demonstrations to help people discover and appreciate this diverse region. The Museum is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is a Smithsonian Affiliate and was the 2019 recipient of the Western Museums Association’s Charles Redd Award for Exhibition Excellence. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


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