Cincinnati Museum Center names Elizabeth Pierce CEO

CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Museum Center today announced that its Board of Trustees has appointed Elizabeth Pierce as president and CEO. In this role, Pierce will also serve as a member of the Board of Trustees. Pierce had previously been named interim CEO and Chief Operating Officer in January following the retirement of Douglass W. McDonald.

Elizabeth Pierce

Elizabeth Pierce

“After careful evaluation of the qualifications for this position, we determined the best candidate was also the one currently in the role,” said Francie S. Hiltz, chair of the Board of Trustees. “Elizabeth has tremendous passion to fuel curiosity. She understands the scope of our business operations and the impact we want to have on our community. We are confident that she is the right person at the right time to lead Cincinnati Museum Center into the future,” stated Hiltz.

Pierce is an advocate for early childhood education and lifelong learning, beginning her career at Chicago Children’s Museum . She carried that passion to Cincinnati in 1999, serving as a communications consultant to Cincinnati Museum Center in 2001. Her relationship with CMC grew deeper through volunteer and leadership advisory roles from 2004 to 2007, before joining staff as vice president of marketing & communications in 2007. She has been a key member of the senior leadership team for the past eight years, driving financial success through robust museum admissions revenue, OMNIMAX® films, blockbuster special exhibitions and community partnerships.

“I sincerely know that we have made the right choice in our new CEO,” said Rev. Damon Lynch, Jr., pastor of the New Jerusalem Baptist Church and retired co-chair of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center . “I have worked with her over the past four to five years and have observed her longer than that. I know Cincinnati Museum Center and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will be well-served with her at the helm.”

During her tenure, Elizabeth has dynamically engaged CMC curators and exhibition staff to leverage the vast collections for community impact and fundraising growth including the celebration of Union Terminal’s 75th anniversary year (2008), the series of CMC Treasures exhibitions (2012-2015) and the Daughters of the Queen City initiative (2014). From local history to premiere global exhibitions, Pierce will guide CMC as future content and programs are kept relevant, fresh and prolific for valued visitors.

“Elizabeth Pierce shares an engaging energy for learning and community impact,” said Mary Zalla, Landor ‘s global president of consumer brands and managing director of Cincinnati and Chicago offices. “Her passion to shape the future of Cincinnati Museum Center and her deep knowledge of the museum field make her the right leader right now.”
Pierce has been a leader in the efforts to secure public support for Union Terminal. She served as a key staff leader of the 2014 Cultural Facilities Task Force. She helped drive the Save Our Icons community engagement campaign in partnership with Music Hall resident companies and Landor; and she established a vital partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation . Pierce guided the Union Terminal sales tax campaign, resulting in the passage of this vital community support by 62% of Hamilton County voters.

Pierce has built an extensive museum career over the past twenty years, gaining experience in programming, collections care, special events planning and fundraising at notable museums including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Chicago Children’s Museum.

In addition, Pierce is an expert in strategic communications. She served in leadership roles as a consultant for seven years, further honing her community engagement and media relations skills. Pierce serves as a regional director of the PR & Marketing Committee of the American Alliance of Museums , where national museum leaders and colleagues have recognized her capabilities.

“I am delighted that our board has chosen Elizabeth Pierce to become the next CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center,” said John E. Pepper, Jr., retired CEO of Procter & Gamble and trustee of Cincinnati Museum Center and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “I have come to know Elizabeth well during the years since the merger of the Freedom Center and Museum Center and have developed tremendous regard for her leadership, her intellectual grasp of the key strategic issues, her decisiveness and her energy. The Museum Center could not be in better hands.”

Pierce recognizes the unique breadth and depth of knowledge that Cincinnati Museum’s collections represent, and she has a clear vision for how to showcase them in the future to enhance community knowledge.

“We will see a fully restored Union Terminal as the place where science and history to work together to deliver rich and memorable experiences for our visitors. These are toddlers dressed in their superhero capes, teenagers using technology, adults deeply engaged in content and grandparents who want to give the gifts of wonder and awe,” said Pierce. “Our team has limitless potential to evoke curiosity, critical thinking and education for all ages. I am deeply honored to take on this role.”

Housed in the historic Union Terminal, the mission of Cincinnati Museum Center is to inspire people of all ages to learn more about the world through science; regional history and educational, engaging and meaningful experiences. With more than 1.4mm visitors annually and a budget of $22mm, Cincinnati Museum Center is the largest cultural institution in the city of Cincinnati. For more information, visit or follow @CincyMuseum on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram.