Elizabeth Pierce Stays Curious


Cincinnati Museum Center CEO Elizabeth Pierce keeps families coming back to Union Terminal.

Photograph courtesy Cincinnati Museum Center

What does progress look like in the world of museums?

There’s a stat out there somewhere that museums are more trusted than almost any other entity in the world. Progress in the museum industry is being consistently loved by your community, bringing topics forward that keep the community learning. I think the Museum Center has done that since moving into Union Terminal.

How has being a woman benefitted you in this field?

I’m a mom, and as moms we’ve got our hands in a lot of places and we’re trying to bring a lot of people together. Being at the Museum Center when my kids were in elementary school, I was intuitively aware of What do moms want from the museum?

What attracts you to this space of learning and discovery?

I was able to get an internship at the Florence Nightingale Museum in London one summer—a very specific topic, but her story of professionalizing nursing during the Crimean War had ripple effects across the ages. I really got excited about the ability of museum experiences to create context and to tell greater stories. I was just in the Children’s Museum the other day looking at the Inside the Grin exhibit. Not a lot of people are walking around inside a giant set of teeth on a daily basis. We go into the collections—we have birds that are being prepared; we have dinosaurs that are being prepared. I never get bored, and my brain is always stimulated, if not overstimulated.

How are you bringing change to the Cincinnati Museum Center?

Fundamentally, we have taken the building apart, we have taken everything out of the building, we have reconfigured this National Historic Landmark. Now, we have to be curious about what’s next.

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