The cure for attendance-itis Featured

1:26pm EDT August 31, 2005
There’s good news on the North Coast — attendance at the Great Lakes Science Center is up 60 percent over last year.

Many attribute that increase to last summer’s hiring of Linda Abraham-Silver as the center’s president and executive director, but she attributes it to the opening of the innovative and controversial ‘Body Worlds 2’ exhibit.

The field of science is all about innovation, which keeps Abraham-Silver on the hunt for innovative exhibits, not only to attract new guests but to keep former guests returning, participating in outreach programs and donating to the center.

Abraham-Silver says that among the exhibitions planned through 2007 is a wind turbine that will be constructed in front of the science center by November. This project will examine alternative energy sources and show off the advances Cleveland companies are making in this technology.

In addition to reviving the center’s declining attendance, part of her responsibility was to create a strategic planning process. She has been meeting with a West Coast group that works primarily with science centers and expects to reveal a strategic plan this fall.

“We are holding in trust the public’s investment in science education, and we have an obligation to ensure that we’re managing those assets in the best way that we can and making sure that we’re giving back to the community as strongly as we can,” she says. Abraham-Silver is working on ways the science center can bring its programs to schools and communities, and is talking with other area nonprofits to formalize the way it offers programs and does business.

“A lot of times (nonprofits) think that because the service they’re offering is a valuable one, that they’re somehow entitled to then be supported, and I think foundations and companies are less willing to listen to (that) argument,” she says. “They need to see responsible business decisions being made by nonprofits as well, and sometimes that means joint ventures or collaborations, or heck, even consolidations.”

HOW TO REACH: Great Lakes Science Center, (216) 694-2000 or www.greatscience.com