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Sean Decatur

Everything I’ve done in life has led up to this tremendous privilege


Sean Decatur has taken over as president of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York, as the museum launches its long-awaited Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation.

Decatur succeeded Ellen Futter, who stepped down in March after 30 years as president.

The AMNH $465m expansion opened in May, adding 230,000sq ft of space to the AMNH. Designed by Studio Gang, the building includes three floors of exhibits, with highlights including a 3,000sq ft butterfly vivarium featuring 80 species of live butterflies, a 5,000sq ft insectarium and a vertical collections facility featuring floor-to-ceiling exhibits representing every area of the museum’s collections in vertebrate and invertebrate biology, paleontology, geology, anthropology, and archaeology.

It also features Invisible Worlds, a 360-degree immersive science-and-art experience, new classrooms and a four-storey civic space.

A biophysicist, Decatur was president of Kenyon College from July 2013.

“I feel as if everything I’ve done in life has led up to the tremendous privilege, responsibility, and opportunity of heading the American Museum of Natural History,” said Decatur. “This great institution is ready to take on the next crucial challenges in everything from scientific research to supporting public education, and to expanding access.”

Speaking to The New York Times, Decatur said: “I’ve spent my career committed to access and opportunity for students, and also to an understanding of science. This feels like a natural evolution.”

“There’s a lot that translates from higher education to the cultural world, but there are also going to be a lot of new things to learn, both about this type of institution and about the museum in particular.”

Decatur is the museum’s first Black president, and follows Ellen Futter’s role as AMNH’s first female president. According to chairman of the museum’s board Scott Bok, increasing diversity in leadership positions is “overdue among large institutions like ours.”

“Look at the city that we live in,” Bok said. “We clearly would like the museum to speak to more people.”

With a background in academia, this is Decatur’s first role leading a cultural institution; something he says could be an advantage.

“Maybe it’s helpful that Sean Decatur isn’t from a museum background when it comes to thinking about how we make the place great for the next 50 years,” said Bok.

The new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation Credit: Photo: Iwan Baan
The Richard Gilder Center has been designed to spark curiosity Credit: Photo: Denis Finnin/© AMNH
The Richard Gilder Center has been designed to spark curiosity Credit: Photo: Alvaro Keding/ © AMNH
The new AMNH building was designed by Studio Gang Credit: Photo: Alvaro Keding/ © AMNH
Decatur was previously a professor of biochemistry Credit: Photo: Alvaro Keding/ © AMNH
Credit: Photo: Alvaro Keding/ © AMNH
The AMNH has committed to building a diverse community Credit: Photo: Alvaro Keding/ © AMNH
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People
Sean Decatur

Everything I’ve done in life has led up to this tremendous privilege


Sean Decatur has taken over as president of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York, as the museum launches its long-awaited Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation.

Decatur succeeded Ellen Futter, who stepped down in March after 30 years as president.

The AMNH $465m expansion opened in May, adding 230,000sq ft of space to the AMNH. Designed by Studio Gang, the building includes three floors of exhibits, with highlights including a 3,000sq ft butterfly vivarium featuring 80 species of live butterflies, a 5,000sq ft insectarium and a vertical collections facility featuring floor-to-ceiling exhibits representing every area of the museum’s collections in vertebrate and invertebrate biology, paleontology, geology, anthropology, and archaeology.

It also features Invisible Worlds, a 360-degree immersive science-and-art experience, new classrooms and a four-storey civic space.

A biophysicist, Decatur was president of Kenyon College from July 2013.

“I feel as if everything I’ve done in life has led up to the tremendous privilege, responsibility, and opportunity of heading the American Museum of Natural History,” said Decatur. “This great institution is ready to take on the next crucial challenges in everything from scientific research to supporting public education, and to expanding access.”

Speaking to The New York Times, Decatur said: “I’ve spent my career committed to access and opportunity for students, and also to an understanding of science. This feels like a natural evolution.”

“There’s a lot that translates from higher education to the cultural world, but there are also going to be a lot of new things to learn, both about this type of institution and about the museum in particular.”

Decatur is the museum’s first Black president, and follows Ellen Futter’s role as AMNH’s first female president. According to chairman of the museum’s board Scott Bok, increasing diversity in leadership positions is “overdue among large institutions like ours.”

“Look at the city that we live in,” Bok said. “We clearly would like the museum to speak to more people.”

With a background in academia, this is Decatur’s first role leading a cultural institution; something he says could be an advantage.

“Maybe it’s helpful that Sean Decatur isn’t from a museum background when it comes to thinking about how we make the place great for the next 50 years,” said Bok.

The new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation Credit: Photo: Iwan Baan
The Richard Gilder Center has been designed to spark curiosity Credit: Photo: Denis Finnin/© AMNH
The Richard Gilder Center has been designed to spark curiosity Credit: Photo: Alvaro Keding/ © AMNH
The new AMNH building was designed by Studio Gang Credit: Photo: Alvaro Keding/ © AMNH
Decatur was previously a professor of biochemistry Credit: Photo: Alvaro Keding/ © AMNH
Credit: Photo: Alvaro Keding/ © AMNH
The AMNH has committed to building a diverse community Credit: Photo: Alvaro Keding/ © AMNH
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COMPANY PROFILES
RMA Ltd

RMA Ltd is a one-stop global company that can design, build and produce from a greenfield site upw [more...]
Vekoma Rides Manufacturing B.V.

Vekoma Rides has a large variety of coasters and attractions. [more...]
Sally Corporation

Our services include: Dark ride design & build; Redevelopment of existing attractions; High-quality [more...]
TechnoAlpin

TechnoAlpin is the world leader for snowmaking systems. Our product portfolio includes all different [more...]
+ More profiles  
CATALOGUE GALLERY
+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

08-08 May 2024

Hospitality Design Conference

Hotel Melià , Milano , Italy
04-07 Nov 2024

Global Wellness Summit (GWS)

In person, St Andrews, United Kingdom
+ More diary  
 


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