Beth Shea, who has worked with the Illinois State Museum for almost 21 years, will become the new director of the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge on Monday, January 4. She was formerly the education director with the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, supervising the museum’s educational programs, visitor services, and volunteer program.
Shea brings an expertise in creating and implementing museum school and public education programs. She helped create the play-themed children’s area in the lower level of the museum, and has worked on many projects as a member of the museum’s exhibition team. She brings experience in grant writing and in building partnerships with community groups to the Children’s Museum. She has also worked as an education associate at the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News.
“The search committee and the museum board found that her experience as a museum professional and her ability to relate to people made her the best choice as new director,” said Tom Beehan, Children’s Museum board president. The search committee conducted a national search during a three-month period to hire the new director, Beehan said, and received applications from a number of good candidates.
Shea said she is honored to have been selected as the museum’s next executive director.
“So much of my museum work has focused on children and their families, making this a very natural career transition for me. I am passionate about children as museum goers and about providing them with great experiences that will make them want to return to the museum,” she said.
“Several things attracted me to this position. CMOR is at an exciting time in its history, and it has a very talented and dedicated staff and board. The museum is poised to grow, and I look forward to facilitating that growth. CMOR’s exhibitions and programs cover so many different topics—from art to science to history to healthy living, all of which mirror my own interests,” Shea said.
“My family and I were also very attracted to the great quality of life in Oak Ridge. We love the outdoors, history, and the arts, and we look forward to exploring East Tennessee,” she added.
Shea has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science with a Russian minor from Purdue University, a master’s degree in teaching, science education, from the University of North Carolina, and a master’s degree in botany from the University of Florida.
She is an executive board member of the Visitor Studies Association and a national-level volunteer with EdCom (American Alliance of Museums). She served on the executive board and the Business Education Advisory Board of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce. An avid nature and animal lover, she has been a rescue dog volunteer and an active member of her local chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution.
Mary Ann Damos retired as executive director of the museum at the end of 2015.
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