Five years on the job, Maria Hane, Executive Director of the Museum of Science and History is a mover in the cultural renaissance that is transforming Jacksonville. She took some time out from her busy life to talk with us about her journey and how the wonders of science and history serve the greater good.
What brought you to the First Coast and what keeps you anchored here?
I grew up in Florida and moved to Jacksonville in my mid-twenties. I had a very clear vision of a career in the nonprofit sector and found my passion for museum work 11 years ago at The Cummer.
I am fully vested in the collective impact of arts & culture on addressing community issues, building tourism, bolstering economic development, and deepening our intellect as individuals. Jacksonville’s cultural community is a powerful tool for making this city a truly great destination and home.
The other thing that keeps me here is that this is where we chose to raise our children — I want them to have a place to call home one day, and Jacksonville will be that place.
Describe the typical day in your role as Executive Director of MOSH.
Meetings, meetings, meetings. Planning, budgeting, fund development, personnel management. I truly love my role in the museum’s ecosystem, but it is far removed from the active on-the-ground nonprofit world I started my career doing. I find my inspiration just outside my office door in the galleries, classrooms and theaters — hearing families learn together, watching students and teachers interact in the exhibits, and even passing by contemplative individuals who are engrossed in the detail of a text panel or artifact.
What role do you think MOSH should play in our community?
MOSH has a rich legacy in our community, educating generations of First Coast residents and visitors. It is a center for learning about ourselves and the world around us. The museum encourages inquisition and discovery; it preserves and presents the past, helping us have a sense of place in our city and region. It broadens our thinking to the very edge of the universe, most notably in the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium, which is the largest, single-lens, digital dome planetarium in America. MOSH provides an entryway to science and history that is inviting for some who may consider those “boring” disciplines. Science becomes a dynamic and relevant subject in our programs and exhibits. And, finally, museums are a place of self-exploration and are platforms for our community to hold dialogue about current issues in our nation and city such as alternative energy sources, race relations and space exploration.