CEO Linda Silver reinvents the Perot Museum of Nature and Science
As a young adult, Linda Silver wanted to become a teacher. “I studied the classics and spent my senior year doing archaeological work in Greece,” she recalls of her undergraduate experience at the University of California, Los Angeles. But when she returned from her travels, a job at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History presented itself, redirecting her career path. “They were starting a school outreach program that used archeology as a way to get kids interested in science,” she explains.
Today, Silver guides one of the centerpieces of natural science education in North Texas – the Perot Museum of Nature and Science – through its 10th year of operation, having led it for the pandemic.
Silver arrived in Dallas via Cleveland and the United Arab Emirates after 13 years with her Los Angeles employer. His highlight job in California was vice president of education and customer relations. In this role, she oversaw education and visitor experience at five Los Angeles locations, including La Brea Tar Pits, earned an MBA from Pepperdine University, and completed her Ph.D. University of Southern California.
At 34, she was recruited to her first position as general manager. Silver led the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, where she lived for six years before completing her final two years of remote leadership from the Middle East. “I was recruited to help the Abu Dhabi government develop its informal science education platform,” Silver says.
The mother of two school-aged children, who moved her family around the world with her, helped the Emiratis design the city’s first science museum, an outreach program for schools, a science festival, etc., while periodically returning to Ohio. . “My intention was to go do it temporarily and come back to Cleveland,” she says. “But the Middle East was just too glamorous, and I stayed.”
Seven years later, Silver received a call from Le Perot and accepted an offer to be its leader in 2017. Since then, she has led the museum through extensive renovations of its human and engineering rooms, created an open paleontology laboratory, helped him change his equipment to adopt a bilingual approach. She also oversaw the development of a state-of-the-art warehouse for Perot’s collections which are not on display but have yet to be carefully preserved.
The museum’s board launched a pandemic fund after the outbreak of Ebola in Dallas in 2014.
After COVID set in, the museum was closed for six months but was well capitalized; its board of directors had launched a fund to fight the pandemic after the outbreak of Ebola in Dallas in 2014. “We were probably in a better position to enter into [the pandemic] than many of our peer organizations,” says Silver.
Now the Perot has recovered nearly 70% of its pre-pandemic attendance, and Silver is on a mission to deepen the impact of the organization. She wants to expand the reach of the museum’s digital STEM education assets, increase its outdoor experiences, explore opportunities for gamification, and expand into new neighborhoods in North Texas.
“Digital is what’s going to allow us to become not just this great regional asset, but a regional asset with a growing statewide and even national reputation for delivering content and education. quality STEM,” she says.
Celebrate in style
2022 is the 10th year of operation for the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, and CEO Linda Silver is spearheading a year-long celebration, culminating in an event chaired by Dirk and Jessica Nowitzki. “It’s really parents using this space,” Silver says. In the months leading up to the grand gala, the museum unveils several upgrades and new exhibits. In March, he added seven new celebrity athletes to his wall of speed, which lets kids race various animals and athletes. He also partners in programs with Klyde Warren Park, which also marks his first decade milestone. “The last one will be in December, when we expect to have our 10 millionth visitor,” Silver said.
Kelsey J. Vanderschoot came to Dallas via Napa, Los Angeles, and Madrid, Spain. A former teacher, she joins…