Sherry Marshall, who has worked with Science Museum Oklahoma for 29 years, knew early on that a career in the sciences was her calling. She began at the museum when it was the Omniplex, and has held roles including direction of education, director of the Oklahoma Museum Network, and VP of programs before becoming president and CEO in 2016. 

Outside work, Marshall serves as an advisor for the National Science Foundation, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, Oklahoma State University Physics, and the Oklahoma Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. Marshall lives in Edmond with her husband. We caught up with her and got her thoughts on … 

… what has kept her at the museum for nearly three decades.

I have always had a genuine love of science. Omniplex and John E. Kirkpatrick played important roles in shaping that in me. I was one of the first students through a summer camp at the museum when it opened in this location, and I even wrote about how I wanted to work there someday. 

Early in my career, I worked with Admiral Kirkpatrick and learned how deeply he cared about the community and how essential the museum is for the quality of life in OKC. I wholeheartedly believe in the museum’s mission and the positive impact it has in people’s lives. It is an honor to be able to continue Admiral Kirkpatrick’s vision. 

… her proudest accomplishments to date.

I am quite proud of how the museum has expanded access, reach and reputation through revitalized programs, such as our state-wide educational outreach, SMO 21+ adult events, exhibit development, as well as through successfully completing our American Alliance of Museums re-accreditation. 

This mark of distinction validates that the museum adheres to the highest of standards in mission and operations, and demonstrates meaningful community impact. 

A great example of all of this is found in our yearly celebration, Tinkerfest. This event features hands-on explorations facilitated by staff and over 200 community partners and volunteers. The diversity of activities in one location allows anyone to discover the importance of curiosity and pushing through challenges, finding the benefit of just tinkering around. The museum saw its largest one day attendance ever at a Tinkerfest. And as proof of concept of our great new programs, we just finished a fiscal year with the highest yearly attendance ever. 

Other big accomplishments may not be the most visible, as we focus on continuously updating the building and infrastructure, ensuring everyone’s visit is safe, comfortable and clean.

… what she imagines for Science Museum Oklahoma in ten years. 

We will always be here to introduce discovery and innovation, embrace curiosity and grow critical thinkers to better navigate the world. Just like science is an ongoing process, the museum should constantly evolve, finding new approaches to share discoveries and increase access to knowledge. 

I hope the heart and culture of our staff, with their commitment to making every experience the best experience, never changes. 

… what she wishes people knew about the museum.

Science Museum Oklahoma is one of the largest science museums in the nation, and one of the largest art museums in the state. While we have many different exhibits, topics and experiences, you will find art and science threaded throughout that bring them all together. 

You see the beauty of color and light in shadows, the ballet of smoke in fluid dynamics, and design in aircraft that appears to defy the laws of physics. There is something for anyone at any age to love here. 

… the power of a worthy mission.

Staying with an institution over time affords you the privilege of seeing long-term results of investments. Witnessing the power of this museum in the community hits deep. You can’t help but to beam when you see a former summer camp student or star employee go out and change the world. 

I recently received a copy of a former museum apprentice’s doctoral dissertation, where they thanked the museum for how it shaped who they are today. Science Museum Oklahoma is a springboard to the innovators of tomorrow. Don’t underestimate the power of a worthy mission and passionate community to make a big difference in the world. 

… goals she still wishes to reach.

I am excited to bring attention to not just the museum, but to our state as we open up a world-class planetarium unlike any other. I am proud to play any role in helping the world recognize what our state has to offer and highlighting our exceptional community to a wider audience.   

Photo courtesy Science Museum Oklahoma

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