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May 5, 2014

New director, exhibits coming to Children's Museum

TRAVERSE CITY — The Great Lakes Children’s Museum hired a new executive director to replace John Noonan, who resigned in January after leading the museum for 11 years.

Michael Long takes the reins at the museum on May 8.

Long recently left his executive director position at Jefferson County Administrators Association in Colorado, a professional membership association for leaders in Jefferson County Public Schools.

Long helped found the Northwoods Children’s Museum in Wisconsin where he served as its executive director for eight years before his move to Colorado.

Great Lakes Children’s Museum Board of Directors president Matt Missias said Long is the “absolute right fit for the position.” His museum experience and education background set him apart from the other 24 applicants.

“Not only could he run a museum, not only could he do the job that needed to be done, but he also had the perspective of how to reach our target demographic of children,” Missias said.

Board members interviewed 10 candidates and narrowed the pool to three top candidates before they made their decision. Missias said Long has a strong vision of how he wants to see the museum grow and supports the team atmosphere board members were looking for.

“I don’t know how else to put it. He gets it,” Missias said. “He understands how to run and grow an organization like ours.”

Long said children’s museums give kids the chance to understand their environment in a fun way, and he’s looking forward to figuring out what makes Traverse City tick.

“I’m interested in finding out what’s unique about Traverse City and what kids need to learn to understand the world around them,” he said.

His goal is to make sure that whatever exhibits or events the museum hosts continue to be relevant and engaging for adults and kids, he said. The museum is geared toward children ages 2 to 6, and Long wants to gradually expand that range to include children up to 10 years old.

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