Zoo & Aquarium News

Museum of Life and Science head Barry Van Deman announces departure

Durham, NC — Barry A. Van Deman announced last week that he is leaving the Museum of Life and Science as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective December 31, 2020, following 16 years at the helm of the popular Durham attraction. Van Deman has served since 2004.

When Van Deman took the Museum’s reins in the fall of 2004, he left a role at the National Science Foundation where he headed funding programs to museums, nonprofits, and television and film studios.

“Serving as head of this wonderful museum has been an incredible honor,” said Van Deman. “I’ve worked alongside an amazing team, dedicated board members, and government leaders, and many generous friends of the Museum. I am so proud of what we have accomplished together.”

The 84-acre science-technology center, AZA-accredited zoo, butterfly conservatory and outdoor exhibits have expanded extensively during Van Deman’s tenure, and the audience grew to over 589,000 annual visitors with over 15,000 member households from across the country. Van Deman is credited with focusing the Museum’s mission and growing earned and contributed revenues, including two successful Durham County bond referendums totaling $18.4 million. With Van Deman at the helm, the Museum created expansive, one-of-a-kind outdoor experiences and facilities, investing $37 million into capital projects and programs.

Most recently, the Museum opened Earth Moves, a one-acre outdoor exhibit featuring a waterfall and hands-on experiences with sand, rocks, and water, following on the heels of the popular Hideaway Woods, a two-acre experience featuring a treehouse village and nature play.

During Van Deman’s tenure, the Museum of Life and Science strengthened its reputation nationally, partnering with museums, zoos, and universities on exhibits, programs, and research.

“I feel very lucky to work with such talented and imaginative professionals,” said Van Deman. “Together, we have created learning experiences unique among science museums nationally and have made ambitious plans for new experiences over the next decade.”   

“Barry’s impact on the Museum of Life and Science will benefit members and visitors from across the Triangle and beyond for many years to come,” said Jordan Clark, chair of the Board of Directors. “We are grateful for Barry’s leadership, vision, and passion. The Museum is well-poised for continued growth and service to the community.”

The Museum’s Board of Directors will establish a search committee to find Van Deman’s successor.

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