Hillary Spencer becomes the new CEO of Bradenton’s Bishop Museum


Long the home of Snooty the Manatee, the Bishop Museum is hiring a CEO who spent 10 years at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

The former president of a children’s museum in South Carolina long affiliated with the American Museum of Natural History in New York has been named the new chief executive officer of Bradenton’s Bishop Museum of Science and Nature.

Hillary Spencer, who has more than 20 years of experience running museums with a focus on art, anthropology, science and natural history, has been selected as his successor Brynne Anne Besio, who announced her resignation in January after 13 years, the museum announced on Thursday.

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Spencer knows Bishop, whom she first visited in 2016 when the AMNH’s Dinosaur Discoveries exhibit was on loan to the museum.

“Since then, I’ve been more and more impressed with the museum’s vision,” she said in a statement. “I think we have a great opportunity to showcase the museum as a thought leader in science and education while building on the community-focused experience it offers.”

The museum said it would conduct a national search when it does announced Besio’s departure in January.

Board chairman Brian Carter said the museum had “grown and grown” during Besio’s tenure. In a statement, he said that over the past five years, Bishop has “put a new focus on creating experiences to arouse curiosity and discovery, opened a new wing of education and the mosaic backyard universe, developed new work and educational spaces and even introduced ”. a new name and a new brand. “

When hiring Spencer, he said museum directors were “excited about what she’s going to bring Bishop”.

Spencer ran the Children’s Museum of the Upstate in Greenville, South Carolina for nearly 18 months until last September when the museum board voted to end their position due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, according to media reports.

She has been an associate faculty member at her alma mater, Brooklyn College, since January. She spent nearly 11 years at the American Museum of Natural History, partly as deputy director for global business development and as director of the traveling exhibition operations. She is a member of the board of directors of the International Committee for Exhibition Exchange.

Besio led the museum through 13 years of growth. The budget was $ 1.4 million when they arrived in 2007 and $ 3.5 million in 2020, while the number of visitors increased from 57,000 in 2007 to 73,000 in 2019, according to the museum. Visitor numbers fell last year as the pandemic affected operations.

But it was also a turbulent time, including that avoidable drowning of his beloved manatee Snooty the day after his 69th birthday in 2017. Snooty has long been the museum’s main attraction and has become the symbol of Manatee County.

More arts: Read more art and entertainment stories from art editor and theater critic Jay Handelman.


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