Science museum names interim leader as search continues for director
By Paola Iuspa
The Miami Museum of Science & Space Transit Planetarium has an interim president while an executive search team looks for a candidate to fill the post, which has been vacant since January.
The museum board of directors last week appointed Robert McCammon, a trustee since 1994 and chairman of the board from 1995-98, as temporary president. Mr. McCammon stepped down from the board to accept his new position.
Judy Brown, museum vice president of programming & education, had been serving as acting president to replace Russell Etling, former president & CEO until he resigned Jan. 16.
Ms. Brown continues to lead program development, said Louise Valdes-Fauli, chair of the board of trustees that oversees museum programs and plans for Museum Park Miami in the 29-acre Bicentennial Park. The new museum is to occupy 4 acres in the bayfront park. Construction could begin in 2006.
Ms. Valdes-Fauli said there is no deadline for the search firm to produce a finalist to lead the museum permanently. In the meantime, Mr. McCammon, a board member and former senior executive at Exxon Mobil Corp., is to use his expertise in project planning, management and strategic development to help expand the museum's programming.
Mr. McCammon, with a more than 30-year tenure in Exxon Mobil, said he does not intend to apply for the permanent position.
"I am not trying to become the hero and the new president & CEO," he said. "I am trying to do the best to enhance this institution so when the new CEO steps in, this organization will be read to go."
In the meantime, he said, he would seek grants to expand programs for visitors and school children. He said he also wants to make the business community "more aware of what we offer and what they can give us.
"We are the best-kept secret in Miami," he said.
He said he plans to continue developing partnerships with the University of Miami Medical School and other private groups.
"The key is to think more out of the box and be creative," Mr. McCammon said. "It is also important to be fiscally sound and responsible."
Museum officials plan to create programs and expand existing ones in an effort to grow into Museum Park Miami even before the relocation. Existing programs include exhibits, educational outreach and Everglades research, Ms. Valdes-Fauli said.
With more than 250,000 annual visitors and a $6.5 million operating budget, the museum sits on 3 acres of the historic Vizcaya Museum & Gardens at 3280 S Miami Ave.
The science museum gets about $800,000 in subsidies from the county, said Kim Johnson, a county budget analyst. Next year, the county budget allocates $784,000 for the museum, she said.
The museum has 55,000 square feet while the proposed $200 million building in Bicentennial would have 200,000 more square feet, Ms. Valdes-Fauli said.
About $150 million of the total needed may come from federal, state and local government grants. The City of Miami has committed $3.5 million, if the museum matches it three to one.
The Miami Museum of Art also is set to move to the park and gets the same offer.
Ms. Valdes-Fauli said her board plans to have a fundraising gala for the relocation campaign early next year.
The museum, founded in 1949, is accredited by the American Association of Museums and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. It was recently named recipient of the National Award for Museum Service by the federal Institute of Museum & Library Services, only one of three nationwide selected for the distinction.