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The Bishop Announces New CEO

The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature Announces New CEO

Today the Board of Trustees of The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature announced the Museum’s next Chief Executive Officer. Hillary Spencer will succeed the Museum’s longtime leader, Brynne Anne Besio, who announced her retirement in January.

Spencer has more than 20 years of leadership experience in museums focused on art, anthropology, science and natural history, creating spaces that welcome diverse voices and serve the community, while implementing strategic business plans to ensure organizational success. She has extensive experience in business development with a global network, focusing on traveling exhibitions and resource exchange. Her proven ability to develop and implement successful business plans that diversify and re-imagine both earned and contributed revenue streams has resulted in increased cash flow, brand awareness and market share. She is a thought leader in educational leadership and is an active voice in the future of museums.

Hillary Spencer

Spencer joins The Bishop most recently from The Children’s Museum of the Upstate in Greenville, S.C., where she served as President and CEO. She previously served as Director of Nomad Exhibitions and worked for over a decade at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). In her role as Assistant Director of Global Business Development at AMNH, Spencer managed the operations and strategy for the traveling exhibitions, planetarium shows and licensing and publishing.

In addition to her time at AMNH, Spencer has produced exhibitions with global partners including Papalote Museo del Niño in Mexico City; Parque Explora in Medellín, Colombia; Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria; Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris; Musée des Confluences in Lyon, France; National Museum of Natural Science in Taichung, Taiwan; and The Field Museum in Chicago. She is a board member for the International Committee for Exhibition Exchange (ICOM) and a Getty Leadership Institute alum.

The Bishop grew and evolved significantly during Brynne Anne’s tenure,” said Board Chair Brian Carter. “In the past five years alone, the Museum put a new emphasis on creating experiences to inspire curiosity and discovery, opened a new education wing as well as the Mosaic Backyard Universe, developed new work and education spaces, and even unveiled a new name and brand. Today, we’re looking forward to welcoming Hillary to the leadership role and are excited about what she will bring to the Museum.”

“The pandemic changed our communities in so many ways,” said incoming Board Chair Elizabeth Baran. “Moving forward means that we need to continue to focus on our strategic goals and initiatives while also recognizing and adapting to new post-Covid realities. We’re standing at a historic juncture — not just for our Museum, but for our community — and we’re pleased to welcome Hillary to help us move forward.”

Spencer first visited The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature in 2016 when the AMNH exhibition Dinosaur Discoveries was on loan to the Museum. “I’ve been increasingly impressed with the Museum’s vision ever since,” she said. “I think we have an amazing opportunity to showcase the Museum as a thought leader in science and education while building upon the community-centered experience it offers. I’m excited to help The Bishop reach and exceed its strategic goals.”

Spencer will take The Bishop’s helm on May 3. Brynne Anne Besio will help support Spencer’s transition in a consulting role.

As the largest natural history museum on Florida’s Gulf Coast, The Bishop offers fun and engaging exhibitions and programs that interpret the scientific knowledge of Florida, the world and the universe. In addition to permanent exhibitions, The Bishop features a constantly changing lineup of special exhibitions. The Museum is also home to the all-digital Planetarium — the only one of its kind on Florida’s Gulf Coast — the Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat, focused on rehabilitating sick or injured manatees for their return to the wild, and the Mosaic Backyard Universe, an indoor exhibition built especially for young children and their families.