About the Challenge

The National Endowment for the Humanities is seeking a new design for the National Humanities Medal, which is bestowed annually by the President of the United States in a White House ceremony.

The National Endowment for the Humanities is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States. NEH grants typically go to cultural institutions, such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public television and radio stations, and to individual scholars. (Visit the NEH website, www.neh.gov.)

The National Humanities Medal, inaugurated in 1997, honors individuals or groups who have made outstanding contributions to the humanities. Past winners have included authors such as Toni Morrison; historians such as Stephen Ambrose; filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg, and Nobel laureates such as Elie Wiesel. It is a distinguished group of thinkers who deserve a glorious medal. A full list of past medal recipients is available here: http://www.neh.gov/about/awards/national-humanities-medals.

The new medal is intended to premiere at the 2013 National Humanities Medal ceremony and will serve the Endowment far into the future.

Design Specifications

NEH invites thoughtful and creative solutions for a new National Humanities Medal.

Translating the idea of the humanities—the study of literature, philosophy, history, and other subjects—into a visual form is a challenging task. (For more about the humanities, visit the NEH website, www.neh.gov.) The design should reflect the importance of the award and of the humanities in a graceful, insightful, and ultimately beautiful manner.

Your design must include the following:

  • the words "National Humanities Medal;" and
  • a blank area on the back of the medal of at least 3 by 1.5 inches. The name of the medalist will be engraved here.


Things to keep in mind as you draft a design:

  • The medal hangs on a ribbon around the neck.
  • The diameter of the medal should be between 3 to 4 inches.
  • The design can use realistic or abstract elements to convey the idea of the humanities.
  • Designs should indicate relief depths, if possible, and make suggestions for type of metal, materials, patinas, and/or colors to be used.


Please read the full rules for eligibility.


Please read the full rules for submission requirements.

Hackathon Sponsors


$3,000 in prizes

Best Design

The winning designer will receive $3,000 and be invited to an unveiling of the final medal in Washington D.C.

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:

How to enter

Submissions are only being accepted via Challenge.gov. Please read the official rules carefully to determine eligibility and to understand licensing agreements. You may submit more than one entry if you have developed more than one unique medal design.

To enter the competition:

  • Fill out the submission form.
  • Upload an image file of your design. It can be in the form of a scan of a drawing, a digital drawing, or a digital photograph of a sculpted model. The maximum file size allowed is 10 MB. Acceptable file types are: PDF, Zip, and Word.
  •  In the description summary area, provide a brief statement about the thought process behind the design and how it relates to the humanities.
  • A draft design can be saved and edited before it is officially submitted.
  • Click "Submit for Review" to have your design entered in the competition.


Questions? Please contact medalcontest@neh.gov or 202-606-8446.


A panel of distinguished judges have been selected for their expertise in the fields of art, sculpture, and minting. They will advise the Chairman of NEH, who will choose the final winning design.

A panel of distinguished judges have been selected for their expertise in the fields of art, sculpture, and minting. They will advise the Chairman of NEH, who will choose the final winning design.

Chunghi Choo

Chunghi Choo
University of Iowa

Don Everhart

Don Everhart
U.S. Mint

George Anthonisen

George Anthonisen

Judging Criteria

  • 1. Design relates to the humanities
    The subjects and ideas of the humanities—literature, history, philosophy, and others—need to be conveyed in the design of the medal. This may be done through realistic or abstract design.
  • 2. Design will translate into a 3-dimensional medal
    Ultimately, the design needs to be translated into a 3-dimensional medal. A winning design, which may be 2-dimensional, will have to be adapted by an artisan in order to create a sculpture for the medal. Can this design become a bas-relief medal?
  • 3. Design can be replicated
    Between 10 and 12 medals need to be struck each year to present to National Humanities Medalists. Can this design be replicated successfully, without excessive cost, for many years to come?
  • 4. Beauty of design
    Is the design graceful, elegant, and to be cherished by its recipient? Is it worthy of a Presidential medal?

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