Q & A with Marisa Wigglesworth
CEO & President of the Buffalo Museum of Science
Wigglesworth took the reins of CEO & President of Buffalo Museum of Science three years ago. She talks about her experience and what’s coming up.
How has the experience been so far? Anything unexpected or strange or wonderful?
All of that. It’s really been a marvelous experience. I was so drawn to this organization and the community as I was learning about the Buffalo Museum of Science and Tifft Nature Preserve and in these three years, we’ve had so many wonderful accomplishments for the benefit of the community. Loads of unexpected, fun, challenging things.
The last time Spree spoke with you, you mentioned that you’d like to do more outreach in the Museum’s neighborhood. Can you tell me where you are with that?
It is absolutely one of the primary objectives of our current strategic plan. Particularly being better neighbors here in our immediate Eastside community. We’ve got a handful of initiatives that I think are showing a lot of success. Particularly our Neighbor Pass—a reduced price annual membership available to families who live in one of the three ZIP codes around Martin Luther King Jr. Park. That program is underwritten by private philanthropists and we’ve had a lot of success in engaging families who, perhaps, were not visiting the museum even though they lived quite close by. We’ve had a lot of success in engaging and expanding that audience.
We’re also working with some of the community groups in our neighborhood. We’re doing more programing with the Charles R. Drew Science Magnet School, their Saturday school program. It was just announced that we will be the recipient of some $2.6 million from Governor Cuomo’s investment here on the Eastside to renovate our building and primarily restore the north façade, which will have a terrific impact on the neighborhood overall, eliminating that built blight situation.
Those are a handful of initiatives that we have underway that are really generating a positive impact.
How has the renovation of the observatory been received?
It’s a terrific venue; we’re just so pleased with it and the programming that can go on up there. We have certainly been stymied by the weather in recent months. It’s tough looking through a telescope on a cloudy night. We have not been able to offer the frequency of viewing that we had originally planned and that we’d hoped, but we are very much looking forward to clearer skies in the coming weeks and months as the weather changes.
I see photos of The Art of the Brick all over social media. Tell me a bit about the community’s response.
We are incredibly gratified and pleased with the community’s response to The Art of the Brick. We brought the exhibit in believing it was a really great exhibit. It was a very special thing to bring to Western New York. And it’s the kind of experience we believe it’s our obligation to make available for Western New Yorkers. It just feels terrific that the community is valuing it as this kind of special experience.
The exhibit is with us through May 5, 2019. We are seeing significant traffic and we’re continuing to encourage all of our guests to think about booking those tickets in advance because we don’t want anyone to miss out. [Visitors can use #LEGOBuff when they post about the exhibit.]
It’s been terrifically successful and we’re appreciative to our presenting sponsor M&T Bank and the associate sponsor AAA of Western and Central New York.
What’s coming up this year that people should watch for?
We have a number of things. We will be promoting our Tifft at Twilight event taking place in late June, so folks can start looking out for that. That’s a wonderful event—a scavenger hunt, or perhaps this year, a game of Clue—through the trails out at Tifft Nature Preserve.
We will launch our first Spacefest in May. We’ll do adult Spacefest Friday evening May 17 and Family Spacefest on Saturday, May 18.
In the fall, we’ll be rolling out a first-time ever new model fundraising event that we’re really excited about. Plans are still coming together for that, but I encourage everybody to keep an eye out for it. It will highlight the collections here. [Details are still under wraps for now, but trust me, it will be fabulous.]