Cindy Petersen -courtesy Taubman Museum

The Taubman Museum of Art is one of 30 finalists for the 2021 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Only 5 art museums nationwide – including the Taubman – are among the finalists. Cindy Peterson is executive director for the iconic downtown Roanoke Museum. She says the “Brush Pals” outreach project during the height of the pandemic is just one reason. The winner chosen by the Institute of Museum and Library Service will be announced in late May.


(from News Release) ROANOKE, Va. —The Institute of Museum and Library Services announced today that the Taubman Museum of Art is among 30 finalists for the 2021 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The Taubman Museum of Art is one of only two institutions in Virginia to be selected as a finalist for this award, and one of only five art museums in the nation. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries that demonstrate significant impact in their communities. For more than 25 years, the award has honored institutions that demonstrate excellence in service to their communities. Since 1996, only 170 institutions have been recipients of the honor. Past winners can be viewed on the IMLS web site.

“This nomination speaks to the power that art can play in making an especially meaningful difference for individuals and communities,” said Cindy Petersen, executive director of the Taubman Museum of Art. “In recent years, our Museum has focused on using art to start new and often challenging conversations, to expand our ways of thinking, to encourage the embrace of diverse cultures, and to lift up new voices.

“Art can also be a valuable tool in helping people deal with loss and trauma. When COVID-19 hit, we adapted our outreach programs and worked with our community partners to ensure our continuous engagement of K-12 students, seniors in retirement communities, families, front-line healthcare workers, underrepresented communities, and those served by programs such as Feeding America and the Roanoke Rescue Mission.” An example of the Museum meeting the community where they were during this past year includes the Taubman’s “Brush Pals” program, which has distributed more than 70,000 hands-on art kits, instructional worksheets and “Cards of Encouragement” to Southwest Virginians living in Botetourt, Campbell, Floyd, Franklin, Grayson, Montgomery, Roanoke, Smyth and Washington counties, many of whom did not have ready access to art.

In addition, the Museum pivoted to remotely continue its program titled “Healing Ceilings: A Community Tile Project,” in partnership with Carilion Clinic. Community groups including Burton Center for Arts and Technology, Community Youth Program, Friendship Retirement, Roanoke City and County Public Schools, Science Museum of Western Virginia LAB students, Temple Emanuel Teen Youth Group, Total Action for Progress, local homeschool groups, and more were provided with materials and prompts to paint more than 250 ceiling tiles with colorful, whimsical designs that will be installed at Carilion Clinic’s facilities to provide comfort to patients as they seek treatment.