“Museum of Science & Industry Board Names Chevy Humphrey President”

On Wednesday, October 7, A.D. 2020, the Board of Trustees of the Kenneth C. Griffin Museum of Science and Industry (M.S.I.) voted unanimously to name Chevy Humphrey the next President & Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O.) of the M.S.I., effective in January of 2021. She is currently the Hazel A. Hare President & C.E.O. of the Arizona Science Center.  Ms. Humphrey will succeed David Mosena, who announced in January he would retire in October after twenty-three years in office, though as of now he is going to see the year out at the M.S.I.

Figure 1 Credit: Arizona Science Center Caption: This is Chevy Humphrey, as seen on March 30, A.D. 2010.

Ms. Humphrey is the first woman and the first Black person to hold the M.S.I.’s presidency.  She has been C.E.O. of the Arizona Science Center (A.S.C.) in Phoenix for almost fifteen years.  In 2005, she became the first Black person to lead a science center.  Prior to being promoted to C.E.O., she served in several roles in that institution.  Between 1998 and 2005, she served as Chief Operating Officer (C.O.O.), Interim Chief Financial Officer (C.F.O.), Executive Vice President, Vice President of Marketing and Development, and Director of Development. 

Earlier in her career, she worked at The Phoenix Symphony and two institutions of higher learning.  She was Director of Development at The University of Texas at Austin from 1992 to ’94, at the University of Houston from 1994 to ’95, and at The Phoenix Symphony from 1995 to ’98.

Chris Crane, Chair of the M.S.I. Board of Trustees, stated, “Chevy Humphrey is extremely accomplished and has the energy, background and experience to step right into the job and build on David Mosena’s legacy of transforming the lives of Chicago’s youth through science education.  Chevy has been pursuing effective strategies for years in Arizona.  We couldn’t be more thrilled that she accepted our invitation to come to Chicago.”

Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot stated, “The Museum of Science and Industry is one of the brightest stars in Chicago’s cultural universe, and we eagerly welcome the historic appointment of Chevy Humphrey as the first Black woman to hold the role as CEO and President.  I personally look forward to collaborating with Chevy on new ways to inspire both our young people and visitors of al ages to engage with cutting-edge scientific advances, understand our rich history, and participate in our even richer future as a global leader in innovation and discovery.”

During her tenure at the A.S.C., museum assets grew from $3,000,000 to $42,000,000, annual revenues grew by 216%, and the number of annual visitors, onsite and offsite, has more than tripled.  She secured grants from the National Institutes for Health and the National Science Foundation, both of which were awarded on a competitive basis.  The M.S.I. stated, “Under her leadership, two non-profits were acquired to maximize programming and ASC became a trusted partner to state education leaders and the science teaching community.”

In addition to being President & C.E.O. of the A.S.C., Chevy Humphrey is Chair of the Board of the American Alliance of Museums.  Previously, she served as Chair of the Board of the Association of Science and Technology Centers (A.S.T.C.), an umbrella organization for over 500 science centers in over fifty countries, from 2012 to 2014.[1]  She is the first Black person to have held this post.  From 2008 to 2010, she was Vice Chair of the A.S.T.C., and, from 2010 to 2012, she was Treasurer of the A.S.T.C.  She was the first recipient of the A.S.T.C.’s Award for Service.

M.S.I. Trustee Michelle L. Collins chaired the Search Committee that led the search with Koya Leadership Partners, a headhunting (executive search) firm that specializes in placing C.E.O.s. at “mission-driven organizations.”  Koya also assisted the M.S.I. in the recruitment of a Chief Financial Officer (C.F.O.) and Vice President, Marketing & Communications.  The firm has also assisted The Art Institute of Chicago recruit a President & Director, The DuSable Museum of African American History recruit a President & C.E.O., and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra recruit a Vice President & C.F.O.

“We chose Chevy because of her effective, proven leadership skills that make her the right leader for MSI in this next chapter.  It is an exciting appointment for a number of reasons, including her track record and commitment to science education, her international leadership within her field, and her deep desire to engage with Chicago’s many diverse communities,” stated Ms. Collins.

Ms. Humphrey stated, “Leading MSI has been an aspiration of mine throughout my career.  I am grateful to Arizona and the Center for the opportunity to lead in their community.  I am thrilled to be joining MSI and Chicago and look forward to being a part of this iconic institution at a critical time in country’s history.

In 2017, Phoenix Business Journal named her “Mentor to the Year,” the first time the periodical gave the award.  Further, the Phoenix Business Journal named her one of the “Most Admired CEOs.”  The Women’s National Basketball Association (W.N.B.A.) and BBVA Compass both named her a “Visionary Leader.”  Outside the museum field, she also sits on the boards of the following organizations: the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute; College Success Arizona; Downtown Phoenix Partnership, Inc.; the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation;[2] and Grand Canyon Education, Inc.  She is also Chair of the Compensation Committee on Grand Canyon’s Board.  From 2005 to 2011, she served as Chair of the Selection and Annual Review Committee for the National Science Foundation’s Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (“NISE-Net”).  

Mr. Mosena has known Ms. Humphrey for years.  He stated she is “Far and away the best leader I have ever met in the science museum field.  We’ve been trading ideas for years and we both share a strong belief that museums are, above all, educational institutions with infinite power to engage young minds and expose them to the miracles of science.  Chicago is very lucky to have her.”

Ms. Humphrey earned her M.B.A. at Northeastern University.  According to her official biography, “She was selected in the 2001 inaugural class of the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Fellows, the only non-CEO selected at that time.”She has taken advanced management courses at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and Yale University School of Management.  The University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, Arizona awarded her an honorary Doctor of Science and Technology degree.  She currently is pursuing her Doctorate in Business Administration at Grand Canyon University with an expected graduation in December of 2020.

On Thursday, August 6, A.D. 2020, the M.S.I. announced it had received a $225,782 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (I.M.L.S.) to digitize information and provide it online about “a significant portion” of its collection of over 35,000 artifacts.  “The Museums for America grant… will allow MSI to build a new online collections website that provides unprecedented free public access to 7,000 artifacts from the Museum’s Collection for the first time ever.”

“The Museum’s Collection is a hidden resource which documents an ongoing story of scientific and technological developments,” stated Kathleen McCarthy, Director of Collections (and my former supervisor).  “These artifacts will be accessible globally, allowing us to better serve current and new audiences like never before in MSI’s 87-year history.”

The M.S.I. stated, “A selection of artifacts in the digital collections will include high-resolution 360-degree photography, 3D models, and in-operation videos.  In addition, a key part of this project will be preserving the story of an artifact’s functionality to make it more useful for researchers, entrepreneurs, educators and students.”

The digital collections will be geared toward students and teachers, as well as academics and curious members of the general public.  The M.S.I. stated the collections Website will integrate “digital artifacts and sets into MSI-developed NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards)-based teacher training and educator resources.  It will also increase access for underserved audiences and those with physical and sensory disabilities with a goal of using digital resources to enhance learning and support guests’ in-museum experiences.”

Chicago Public Schools (C.P.S.) teachers are having input on which artifacts will receive digital profiles.  As of early August, work on the two-year-long project was set to begin in September, so it should already be underway.  The M.S.I. stated, “This first round of artifacts will embody ‘bold beginnings’ and represent transformative inventions, experiments and explorations that have shaped our lives.”

Figure 2 Credit: Heidi Peters, Museum of Science and Industry Caption: This is a picture from the re-opening of the Museum of Science and Industry.

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      For most of Mosena’s time in office, the Museum of Science and Industry used the acronym M.S.I. or Museum of Science and Industry was stylized as the “Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago” or the “Museum of Science + Industry.” However, on Thursday, October 3, 2019 the Board of Trustees voted to accept a $125,000,000 gift from the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund.  M.S.I. executives and board members felt it would consequently be appropriate to change the Museum of Science and Industry’s name to the Kenneth C. Griffin Museum of Science and Industry. A multi-billionaire, Mr. Griffin is the founder and C.E.O. of Citadel, Inc., a Chicago-based hedge fund.  His gift is the largest in the history of the science and technology museum, and one of the largest gifts to any cultural institution in Chicago. 

      The institution is located at the northern end of the Chicago Park District’s Jackson Park, on the south side of 57th Street, between Lake Shore Drive to the east and Cornell Drive to the west, in the East Hyde Park neighborhood of the Hyde Park Community Area (Community Area #41) on the South Side of Chicago. 

      Normally, the M.S.I. is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  “Boo Fest” will take place from the 17th of October through the 4th of November.  Check this Webpage to find out about visiting the M.S.I. during the pandemic: https://www.msichicago.org/visit/know-before-you-go/.  The address is 5700 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60637.  The Website is https://www.msichicago.org/ and the phone number is (773) 684-1414.

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[1] Science-technology centers are modeled on the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.  They are not science museums as such and do not have collections of artifacts or specimens.  [Nor do they have curators, archivists, and research librarians on staff behind the scenes planning exhibits, caring for artifacts or specimens that are in display or in storage, caring for archival documents and books, and conducting historical research or hosting outside scholars who conduct historical research on-site.]  Rather, they have hands-on models, mock-ups, and interactive simulators.  The stress is more on the current state of science (at least at the time the science center opened or an exhibit within it opened) rather than on the history of science and technology.  In recent decades, science-technology centers have tended to drop references to industry or technology from their names and focused more on abstract science rather than the practical application of science by inventors, engineers, and scientists who invented or improved machines. 

[2] Theodore (“Teddy”) Roosevelt (1858-1919), President of the U.S.A. (1901-1909), was a very popular figure in Chicago.  The Chicago City Council renamed 12th Street Roosevelt Road on the South Side of Chicago was named after him and there is a statue of him at the Chicago Zoological Foundation’s Brookfield Zoo in west suburban Brookfield, Illinois.

[3] Please note that at the time Waldemar Kaempffert (1877-1956), the first Director of the Museum, began to bring Julius Rosenwald’s vision into reality, he translated the Deutsches Museum von Meisterwerken der Naturwissenschaft und Technik as “German Museum of Masterworks of Science and Technology” but today the institution calls itself the “German Museum of Masterpieces of Science and Technology” in English-language version of its Website.

[4] In 1906-09, Burnham and assistant Edward H. Bennet drafted The Plan of Chicago with the financial support of Chicago’s Merchants Club, which merged with The Commercial Club of Chicago in 1907.  The report, published in 1909, circulated amongst Commercial Club members and public institutions, was adopted by the Chicago Common Council at the urging of Mayor Fred Busse (1866-1914).

[5] Some of the other palaces from the White City were disassembled in Chicago and reassembled in state capitals.  The Peristyle and some other structures burnt down on January 8, 1894.  Seven more palaces burnt down on July 5, 1894.  The German building was turned into a bathhouse, was renamed the Liberty Building during the First Great World War, and burned down.  The Japanese Tea House burned down during the Second Great World War.  The Iowa Building became an eyesore and was demolished at the Museum of Science and Industry’s expense.  The Art Institute of Chicago and La Rabida Children’s Hospital also date back to the World’s Columbian Exposition, but neither of those buildings were part of the White City.

[6] There are 19th Century sources that state the Palace of Fine Arts was designed by Root and Atwood, but Root’s Second Empire-style design work was not incorporated by Atwood. 

[7] The other palaces were made of wood or steel framing clad in a kind of plaster known as “staff.” Staff is a combination of plaster of paris, hemp fibers, and Portland cement.

[8] Other buildings designed by A.P. Shaw include the Merchandise Mart, the Civic Opera House, the Morton wing of The Art Institute of Chicago, the original McCormick Place, and the Continental Plaza Hotel.

[9] For most of the M.S.I.’s history, though, the Museum Library was on the balcony of the Central Pavilion’s South Court.  The Museum Library, then known as the Kresge Library, closed in 1996.  The Archives absorbed collections not donated to The Avery Coonley School in Downers Grove, Illinois. Dr. Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress, worked at the M.S.I. Library in the 1980s.  For five years, she worked as library services coordinator at the M.S.I., from 1982 to 1987.

[10] A banker, lawyer, U.S. Army officer, diplomat, statesman, and composer, Charles Gates Dawes won the 1925 Nobel Peace Prize for his work as Chairman of the Reparations Commission that restricted Germany’s debt after the First Great World War (1914-1918).

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