The North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources announced today that Denise Young has been named the next director of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Young is currently the executive director of the Bell Museum in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the state’s official natural history museum and planetarium. She replaces Eric Dorfman, who left the museum in December; Young will join the museum in June.
“Denise Young brings years of experience and an innovative spirit to her new role as director of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences,” Governor Roy Cooper said. “I’m confident that her leadership and vision will help take our state’s most-visited museum to even greater heights.”
D. Reid Wilson, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, said, “We are thrilled to welcome Denise Young back to North Carolina as the new director for the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. As a lifelong educator, she has a real passion for science education – a critical function of this outstanding museum.”
“What an honor to be selected to lead the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, a museum that engages so many North Carolinians in the wonders of nature and the process of scientific inquiry,” Young said. “Along with millions of other people, including my former students, I have been inspired by the museum’s exhibits and programs over the years. It will be exciting to participate in the museum in this role, and I’m thrilled to work alongside the museum’s talented and passionate staff, dedicated Friends board members, the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, and communities and partners statewide to strengthen our collective understanding, appreciation, and conservation of the natural world.”
As executive director of the Bell Museum since 2016, Young led the transformation of the state museum, which is located on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus, including the addition of the only dedicated public planetarium in the state.
Prior to joining the Bell Museum, Young was director of Education and Planning at the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center in Chapel Hill. While there, she co-founded the North Carolina Science Festival, an annual celebration of the cultural, educational, and economic benefits of science that has engaged over 3 million North Carolinians since its inception in 2010. She previously taught at the UNC School of Education and as a classroom educator in Durham Public Schools.
Young received a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and American Studies, a masters in School Administration/Educational Leadership, and a doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the largest natural history museum in the Southeast, is Raleigh’s top-rated tourist attraction, the state’s most popular museum, and a leader in nature and science museums globally. Featuring world-class exhibits, learning centers, live animals, and hands-on investigative labs, the museum combines elements of a natural history museum, science technology center, children’s museum, aquarium, and zoo. It is state-owned and managed, residing within the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
Image credit: Bell Museum, Saint Paul, MN