Children playing at New Children's Museum
An activity at the New Children’s Museum in downtown San Diego. Courtesy of the museum

Two San Diego-area museums — the New Children’s Museum and the Barona Cultural Center and Museum — are among 10 receiving the nation’s highest museum honor.

Both will receive the 2019 National Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, an independent federal agency. The medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries that make significant contributions to their communities.

The awards, announced on Tuesday, will be presented at an event in Washington on June 12.

The New Children’s Museum in downtown San Diego combines contemporary art with a place for children to learn and play in the interest of sparking the imaginations of its young visitors.

“Artists are often at the cutting edge of new ideas,” said Judy Forrester, executive director and CEO of the children’s museum. “Sometimes they make waves that people aren’t quite ready for, but we think that is really important in our society. As a museum, we need to be forward thinking and embrace diversity.”

“Art is a great way for people to express themselves, to explore, to discover, to take risks, and to fail safely,” she said. “We engage artists because they model these things for us, and the kids get to experience it all first hand.”

The Barona Museum is the first in San Diego County to be located on an Indian reservation and dedicated to the perpetuation of the local Kumeyaay-Diegueño culture. Its collection spans thousands of years of history, with some objects dating as far back as 10,000 years.

A scout troop at the Barona Museum
A scout troop at the Barona Cultural Center and Museum. Courtesy of the museum

Located off Route 67 in the Barona Valley, the museum offers interactive displays of native culture, listening alcoves featuring the sounds and songs of ancient Native Americans life, and exhibits that illustrate important industries of the people, such as basketry, pottery making, and the production of stone tools.

Selected from 30 national finalists, the 2019 National Medal for Museum and Library Service winners represent institutions that provide dynamic programming and services that help communities thrive.

“It is a pleasure to recognize the 10 distinctive recipients of the National Medal of Museum and Library Service,” said Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew, director of the federal institute. “Through their programs, services and partnerships, these institutions exemplify the many ways that libraries and museums are positively transforming communities across the nation.”

A complete list of the 2019 national medal recipients is available online.

Updated at 1:55 p.m., Tuesday, May 7, 2019