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Gulfport's Lynn Meadows Discovery Center wins national award

TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD 
 Cindy DeFrances sits outside the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center in Gulfport. DeFrances is the new executive director of the center.
TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALD Cindy DeFrances sits outside the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center in Gulfport. DeFrances is the new executive director of the center.

Lynn Meadows Discovery Center in Gulfport is one of 10 recipients of the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, given by the Institute of Museum and Library Services to museums and libraries for service to the community.

For 22 years, the award has celebrated institutions that respond to societal needs in innovative ways, making a difference for individuals, families and their communities. The award will be presented at an event in Washington, D.C., on June 1.

Lynn Meadows Discovery Center opened its doors in 1998 and has been dedicated to expanding a child's world through shared learning experiences that enrich the minds and hearts of children, families and communities with quality arts education, innovative programming and fun interactive exhibits.

"This year's National Medal recipients show the transforming role of museums and libraries from educational destinations to full-fledged community partners and anchors," said Kathryn K. Matthew, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. "We are proud to recognize the extraordinary institutions that play an essential role in reaching under-served populations and catalyzing new opportunities for active local involvement."

"The shouts and giggles we hear every day are confirmation enough for us, but it sure doesn't hurt to hear that we have been selected as a national winner in recognition of exceptional service to our community," said Cindy DeFrances, executive director of Lynn Meadows Discovery Center for Children. "Our visitors know that we offer an experience like no other children's museum in Mississippi or along the Coast, one where we inspire children, families and communities through interactive educational experiences and exploration. At the center, a child can participate in activities as varied as spotting a lion from a safari jeep in Africa to climbing into a tree house in the oaks."

A community member will join DeFrances in Washington, D.C., for the June event to share the impact the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center for Children has had on his life.

After the ceremony, StoryCorps, a national nonprofit dedicated to recording, preserving, and sharing the stories of Americans, will visit LMDC to document stories from the community.

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