Organization: The Museum of Science and Industry

Location: Chicago, IL

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About The Museum of Science and Industry:

The Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) is one of the best known and most loved science and technology museums in the world and the largest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

MSI has welcomed more than 180 million guests since opening in 1933. Its mission is to inspire the inventive genius by presenting captivating and compelling experiences that are real and educational. Even bigger than MSI’s mission is its vision – to inspire and motivate our children to achieve their full potential in the fields of science, technology, engineering and medicine. The organization’s 400 employees are inspired by and live MSI’s vision and mission.

MSI is housed in the only remaining building from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and is also one of only 11 museums in Chicago standing on park district land. It was built as the fair’s Palace of Fine Arts by Burnham & Root architect Charles Atwood. Facilities include over 14 acres of hands-on exhibits and more than 400,000 square feet of exhibit space, Chicago’s only five-story Dome theater, three restaurants, four Gift Shops, a student and teacher e-learning center with videoconferencing capability, an 800-seat auditorium and two smaller theater spaces, 12 Learning Labs for education programming, connected indoor parking and other guest services.

The major exhibits of MSI are world renowned.  Its permanent exhibits – Science Storms and YOU! The Experience – are the most interactive and hands-on in the world and have won 28 international design awards, including every top award in the museum field. In 2017, the Extreme Ice exhibit opened at MSI, revealing how climate change is dramatically altering the face of our planet. Featuring time-lapse footage and photography from renowned photographer James Balog and a 7-foot-tall ice wall that guests can touch, this powerful exhibit brings the story of the Earth’s melting and retreating glaciers to life and gives a “visual voice” to our changing world.

More than a museum, MSI is a leading educational institution that is revolutionizing science education through its nationally recognized The Welcome to Science Initiative. The Welcome to Science Initiative develops and facilitates science teacher education courses, youth development programs, student Learning Labs and after-school science clubs. As part of The Welcome to Science Initiative the Institute for Quality Science Teaching (IQST) works to improve science learning in Chicago-area schools through sustained teacher professional development. Together, these are the ways MSI brings science to life for children and all those who are essential to their success, including their families, teachers, schools and communities, all while pursuing its larger vision.

The Museum for the Future  

MSI is the place where generations come to see what’s next.  It has both an illustrious history and a focus on the future of science and science education. As the museum for the future, it aspires to excite people to create the future through engaging experiences, programming, masterful storytelling and exhibitions.

MSI is positioning itself as a provocateur/futurist Museum. In this next chapter, the goal of its Exhibition department is to create breakthrough programs and experiences that advance MSI’s mission and vision in powerful new ways.

To achieve its goal, MSI has laid out the following objectives:

  • Support the successful launch and run of all exhibits.
  • Engage MSI employees to work across departments to enhance efficiencies and processes to create a more nimble and flexible organization.
  • Create a frictionless and enriching experience for all guests.
  • Expand our reach and impact through core educational programming, innovative museum experiences, traveling exhibitions and digital initiatives.
  • Engage donors through new outreach and events, and impactful interactions with our employees, volunteers and community partners.

For more information on the Museum of Science & Industry, please click here.

The Opportunity:

Positioning MSI as the museum for the future requires breakthrough programming, experiences and storytelling that advances MSI’s mission and vision in powerful new ways.  MSI is seeking a Vice President of Exhibitions & Engagement to oversee the creative process for inspiring exhibits and engaging storytelling.

Reporting to the Museum’s President & CEO, this executive will lead a team of 60 that designs exhibits and engagements that speak to its audiences with a provocative and futuristic voice.  S/he will be responsible for the creation, design, budget and installation of the NEXT generation of exhibits which includes temporary and permanent exhibits.  S/he will have responsibility for the collection which includes 35,000 artifacts and oversight for the collection policy including the process of accessions and deaccessions.

Project NEXT is an initiative that assembles cross-divisional teams to develop projects that achieve MSI’s full potential and advance the development of its Provocateur and Futuristic position. Other key responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Providing creative leadership, solutions and problem solving that consistently deliver innovative and engaging exhibits in addition to programming with fully integrated guest experiences;
  • Managing the following departments: Science Exhibition and Technology, Exhibit Design, Temporary Exhibits and Events, Collections, and Exhibit Projects & Maintenance to create a strategic plan for ingenious storytelling through MSI’s exhibits and collections;
  • Partnering closely and collaboratively with the Vice President of Marketing/CMO and Vice President of Education and Guest Services to lead the strategy and innovation process for cross functional teams within MSI;
  • Cultivating, growing and managing external partnerships to develop and/or enhance content in exhibits and programming; and
  • Leading MSI’s efforts to be fully experienced by all visitors and providing leadership in creating exhibitions that are cultural and physically accessible by all.

Candidate Profile:

The ideal candidate will have the following professional and personal qualities, characteristics and skills:

Collegiality & Collaboration

Collegial and agile in nature, this leader will inspire meaningful teamwork, collaboration and shared purpose. With a high level of emotional intelligence, s/he will demonstrate the ability to develop productive and fulfilling working relationships within his or her departments and across the organization at all levels, including the Vice President of Marketing/CMO and Vice President of Education and Guest Services, to achieve the organization’s full potential. S/he will also have the ability to cultivate and engage multiple, cross-divisional voices to share expertise and make effective connections. A polished and confident communicator, s/he will be comfortable cultivating, growing and managing external strategic partnerships and collaboration.


This executive will have a strong track record of providing creative leadership to deliver masterful storytelling demonstrated through cutting-edge exhibitions, programming and fully integrated guest experiences to fulfill an organization’s mission. With superior conceptual and critical thinking abilities, s/he will demonstrate the ability to lead a team to curate and turn “big ideas” into life and deliver creative results within budget partners, while boldly pushing the boundaries of the work and encouraging brainstorming, research and development. S/he will also have a strong working knowledge of interactive design, user-centered experience design and new platforms for digital technologies that raise our digital capabilities in exhibit design and production.


An inspiring and engaged leader, s/he will have a strong sense of design and experience in cultivating a team with diverse set of ideas and skills and achieving organizational impact through recognizing and leveraging individual creativity, strengths and cross-functional team work. This executive will be successful at orchestrating strategy and innovation process and leading a team to execute on organizational goals and ensure accountability and high standards for staff deliverables, while providing staff with a mission-driven work environment and professional growth opportunities. Serving as an internal champion, s/he will foster a positive environment for participation, collaboration and innovation with the goal to create breakthrough experiences that integrate individual disciplines for a greater overall experience.

Passion for the Mission

Fully embracing with enthusiasm and pride the culture, values, and goals of MSI, the Vice President of Exhibitions & Engagement will be passionate about working in partnership with the leadership team to advance MSI’s mission and vision in powerful new ways. This executive will exude a commitment to, and interest in, inspiring meaningful team work and engaging cross-divisional voices to advance the development of MSI’s Provocateur/Futurist position.

This leader will most likely have a variety of professional experiences. S/he will be comfortable working across multiple mediums such as exhibitions, temporary shows, plays, films, among others. The ability to assemble diverse and inclusive teams with the goal of integrating individual disciplines to create a greater overall experience is strongly desired.

The Museum of Science and Industry, one of the largest science museums in the world, offers world-class and uniquely interactive science experiences that inspire inventive genius and foster curiosity. From groundbreaking and award-winning exhibits that can’t be found anywhere else to Live Science Experiences that make you the scientist – a visit to MIS is where fun and learning mix. Through The Welcome  to Science Initiative MSI offers a variety of student, teacher and family programs that make a difference in communities and contribute to the Museum’s larger vision: to inspire and motivate children to achieve their full potential in science, technology, medicine and engineering. If you are equally passionate about our vision and want to be surrounded by a team of dynamic, smart and innovative people, the Museum of Science and Industry is the right place for you.


Alison P. Ranney and Anny K. Chou of Koya Leadership Partners have been retained for this search. Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search firm that works exclusively with mission-driven clients.

To express your interest in this role please email Alison and Anny directly at All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.