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Norman's Sam Noble museum wins national medal for community contributions

The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History in Norman has been named a recipient of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service — the nation’s highest honor conferred on museums and libraries.
by Jane Glenn Cannon Published: April 25, 2014

The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History has been named one of 10 recipients of this year’s National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

The award from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community.

Museum officials said they will accept the award May 8 in a ceremony at the White House.

“This prestigious national award confirms that our museum is one of the most important university-based natural history museums in our nation and, indeed, in the world,” said University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren. “As Oklahomans, we are privileged to have it in our state.”

The Sam Noble museum was founded in 1899 by the Territorial Legislature of the future state of Oklahoma and located on the OU campus. In 1987, the museum was designated as the state’s natural history museum.

In May 2000, the museum opened a new 198,000-square-foot structure that has welcomed 2.1 million visitors since that time. The museum houses more than 10 million objects organized into 12 collections from Native American Languages to Genomic Resources.

“The Sam Noble museum is proud to be selected for this national honor. We share this award with the people of Oklahoma who made this museum and its programs possible and who continue to support us in every way,” said museum director Michael Mares.

Ernesto Vargas, 19, of Oklahoma City, said the museum and its programs helped him decide what he wanted to do with his life.

As a seventh-grader, Vargas was introduced to science through the museum’s ExplorOlogy program. He later participated in other programs at the museum, including a summer adventure camp that involved digging up and identifying fossils.

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by Jane Glenn Cannon
Senior Reporter
A native of Oklahoma, Jane Glenn Cannon is an award-winning reporter who has covered everything from crime, courts and government to entertainment and features. She wrote a popular personal column for many years. She is a former associate writer...
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