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Museum of Life and Science announces Carrie Heinonen as President and CEO

For Immediate Release – March 30, 2021 | 11am

Media Contact:
Matt Pusateri, Senior Director of Marketing
(919) 220-5429 x390 |



Carrie HeinonenDURHAM, NC – The Museum of Life and Science is pleased to announce that it has appointed Carrie Heinonen as its next President and Chief Executive Officer. She will assume leadership of the Museum on April 26, 2021, less than two months before it celebrates its 75th anniversary in Durham.

“Carrie is the right person to lead the Museum into its next chapter,” said Jordan Clark, chair of the Board of Directors. “The board is thrilled to welcome her to the Museum family. Her vision, experience, creativity, leadership, and dedication to science and nature education make her uniquely qualified to guide the Museum into the future.”

Most recently, Heinonen served as the Director and CEO of the Museum of Northern Arizona. Under her leadership, the organization doubled its scientific research efforts and opened a new Native Peoples gallery co-curated by members of the ten tribes of the Colorado Plateau. Heinonen was previously President of the Musical Instrument Museum. As Vice President for Marketing at the Art Institute of Chicago, she led the museum’s rebranding ahead of its Modern Wing Opening. Heinonen has also led several youth-focused businesses, having managed Life Cereal for Quaker Oats and Hubba Bubba for the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company. Heinonen holds a Masters in Public and Private Management from the Yale School of Management and a Bachelor’s Degree in Art History from Dartmouth College.

“It’s a huge honor, and likewise, a big responsibility,” Heinonen said of stepping into the role. “The Museum is a multi-generational institution holding a place in the hearts of many, and I want to responsibly steward that long-standing trust while ensuring the organization evolves and remains relevant to the Triangle’s diverse community.”

Consulting firm moss+ross helped the Museum conduct an extensive nationwide search for its new CEO, screening more than 130 candidates.

“Carrie’s wealth of experience across a wide range of sectors will prove invaluable to our Museum,” said interim CEO Charlie Moore. “Carrie brings an extensive background in all aspects of museum operations and leadership. Her track record of success in strategic planning, program development, membership, marketing, and fundraising makes her the right choice to lead the Museum. Above all, her creativity, passion for community engagement, and commitment to inclusion impressed all of us.”

Located less than five miles from downtown Durham, the Museum of Life and Science is one of North Carolina’s top family destinations. Its 84-acre campus includes a two-story science center, one of the largest butterfly conservatories on the East Coast, and beautifully landscaped outdoor exhibits. The Museum is also an AZA-accredited zoo, home to rescued black bears, lemurs, endangered red wolves, and more than 60 species of live animals. It has been voted Best Museum in the region by Carolina Parent, Indyweek, and Durham Magazine. For six straight years, TripAdvisor has awarded the Museum its Travelers’ Choice Certificate of Excellence and named it one of the region’s top attractions. In 2019, the last full year before the COVID-19 outbreak, the Museum welcomed more than 589,000 visitors.

The Museum celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2021 but does so as it is still operating under challenging health and safety requirements as it navigates the COVID-19 crisis. In 2020, the Museum closed its doors for nearly four months between March and July and didn’t open its indoor exhibits until last September. With the increasing rates of vaccinations and the easing of operating restrictions, Heinonen and the entire staff of the Museum are looking forward to welcoming back more members and visitors.

“This year, we have all experienced the ways in which science both affects and connects the global community,” Heinonen said. “Science museums can play a critical role in civil society, not only by inspiring and educating us, but by providing a venue in which we can explore our biggest challenges. I’m excited to be joining a team of accomplished museum professionals who recognize that the work we’re doing can provide a path to improved lives for individuals and to a healthier world.”